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History of Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services


Since 1972, first as Alpha House and now as Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services (CARS), we have treated the chemical dependency recovery needs of Central New York with Outpatient, Supportive Living and Intensive Residential Treatment services.
Our mission began in the early 1970’s, at the Seal and Serpent Society at Cornell University.  Founded by a graduate student who wished to help heroin addicts with their recovery, we have grown into a “professional community resource” located in a new facility in downtown Ithaca. Our humble beginnings have built a solid foundation that has made Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services the largest recovery services provider in Tompkins County.
After incorporation in 1972 and a brief stay on Route 13 just outside of Ithaca, what was formerly known as the residential services unit moved to its present home on Route 227 in Trumansburg. Outpatient services began in downtown Ithaca soon after. We moved from our first offices over the old State Theater to 102 The Commons in the late 1970’s and finally to our new Outpatient and Administrative Center on State Street in March 0f 2001.  Our Groton clinic opened in 1991. Supportive Living services began in 1999.
Although we lost our residential facility to a fire on October 25, 2003, we opened a $2.9 million state of the art intensive residential addiction treatment center on land adjacent to our original facility just outside of the village of Trumansburg in September 2004. We accepted our first client on October 25, 2004.
We continue to focus on evidence-based practices (EBP) in all of our treatment and clinical decisions. In 2006, we adapted The Matrix Model an EBP developed at UCLA School of Medicine and it forms the central organizing principle and focuses on all CARS treatment programs. We also use Hazelden materials to augment all of our treatment services as well.
Likewise, in 2012, we invested organizational resources to be trained and certified in SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment) at Boston University. This EBP which focuses on reducing risk associated with substance use and abuse led CARS to engage with local foundations and Cayuga Medical Center to provide on-site SBIRT services at their emergency department.
In 2013 CARS added Love First© Clinical Intervention Services ( This model of intervention which has been designated by Hazelden as a best practice and is defined by one rule and one rule only: we wish to persuade an individual suffering from addiction to enter treatment while preserving their dignity and worth as a human being. We train and support the family and other significant people in the addicted individual’s life to lovingly and effectively persuade that individual to enter treatment so that the family and friends might be once again reunited with the man or woman they lost to addiction so long ago.

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