Alcoholism is a chronic, progressive and sometimes fatal disease. In the United States, there is one alcohol-related death every six minutes. Dr. Juris Shibayama, a spine surgeon at TriStar StoneCrest, knows first-hand how difficult it can be to find the strength and resources needed to defeat a substance use disorder. As a recovering alcoholic, Dr. Shibayama saw a need to help patients in the hospital who are struggling with addiction. He wanted to make it easier for patients to address the root cause of their illness and take that first step by attending an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting.
“Prior to starting the AA recovery program at TriStar StoneCrest, options were limited in the inpatient setting to treat the root disease of alcoholism,” said Dr. Shibayama. “I knew I had the disease of alcoholism for two years before I sought treatment through rehab. I wish someone had told me that AA is the most effective treatment for alcoholism during those two years. It might have saved me a lot of money and pain.”
Dr. Shibayama shared his vision and passion with TriStar StoneCrest CEO, Lou Caputo, who did not hesitate to support and champion the new program across the hospital. “We believe in always putting our patients first, and this program provides a needed resource that can benefit our patients, colleagues and community,” said Caputo. “Bringing the AA program to our hospital and patients is a way to elevate the care we provide as we strive to create healthier tomorrows for our community.”
Armed with an engaged committee, physician and nursing support, and telemedicine technology, Dr. Shibayama leads a virtual AA meeting at 7 a.m. Monday through Friday for patients, colleagues, physicians and community members. Since the program began in November 2020, the virtual Alcoholics Anonymous recovery sessions have been attended by over 400 patients and nearly 100 individuals from outside the hospital. Of the hundreds impacted so far, three patients who were introduced to the AA program through TriStar StoneCrest have received their one-year sobriety chip.
“This is a resounding testimony to the effectiveness of what we are doing,” said Dr. Shibayama. “Treating alcoholism and addiction does not just help the patient. It is impacting families and communities far outside the walls of our hospital.”
Dr. Shibayama emphasizes that daily treatment is crucial for recovery. He suggests attending 90 AA meetings in 90 days for anyone who thinks they might have a problem with alcohol. The virtual meetings held through TriStar StoneCrest allow attendees to share their experience, strength and hope to work together to truly recover from the disease.
AA is available in every city throughout the United States and the world. Search online for “AA meeting near me” or visit aa.org/find-aa. To participate in the AA at Virtual Meeting offered through TriStar StoneCrest via Zoom go to https://zoom.us/j/92184018917.