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Paramount Wellness Retreat Brings Addiction Recovery Services to Haddam

By Sally Haase

(September 28, 2022) —First, it was a water analysis laboratory, then a childcare facility, and now the grand building on Island Dock Road is about to open as an addiction recovery facility. Paramount Wellness Retreat (PWR) is a newly founded addiction recovery treatment center based on unique diagnostic modalities. Connecticut, it seems, is not an easy state for providers to come online. The state requirements of a Certificate of Need can be challenging. Yet, the founders saw a need in Connecticut for a treatment center not based on often failed practices.

Kyle Bartler, his brother Chris, and Ron Donatucci saw a crisis and wanted to make an impact on individuals and families affected by addiction. Kyle, who had been an air ambulance pilot in the Hawaiian Islands, found meaning in his life helping to save others. A short government desk job robbed him of that satisfaction. And so, these three men stepped out of their comfort zone to embark on a mission to help those suffering from addiction and alcoholism. Their vision was not to create the average treatment centers that simply detox and send a patient out the door with more drugs.

A mutual friend connected the three with Dr. Ravi Chandiramani, a naturopathic physician and a pioneer in the field of Integrated Addiction Medicine. IAM combines conventional medicine with the healing modalities of naturopathic medicine. Dr Ravi, as he is called, was immediately interested in their vision. They developed a program, but needed a home. The team was drawn to Haddam for its beauty and the serene landscape located just across from Haddam Meadows State Park and the Connecticut River. Patients or residents are in need of an atmosphere away from and unlike the situations they may have come from.

Paramount’s policy will be to engage in the community, hiring employees locally and using local services and vendors; for example, Nutmeg Pharmacy and River Valley Provisions. The 36-bed retreat will not be an emergency room, rather it will rely on referrals from Connecticut hospital emergency rooms and their behavioral health floors. In addition, PWR will support treatment and after-care providers, as well as corporate Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and Unions.   It will be an all-gender facility, fostering families in crisis while ensuring the residents that they will be comfortable and safe in their environment. The retreat is not a long-term care facility. The care teams expect that the average stay will be 5-7 days or 30-40 days for detox residents.

This reporter spoke to Dr. Ravi and his team about addiction and recovery. Paramount’s paradigm will be to develop an individual care plan based on several evaluations, including medical history, psychiatric and laboratory analysis, as well as genetic findings. The care plan will then consist of one or several approaches to rehabilitation.

I asked Dr. Ravi, who has 15 years of experience in the field, about opioid addiction, specifically fentanyl. Coming from Arizona, he saw firsthand the dangers of fentanyl. Fentanyl powder is procured from China, mixed with other opioids in Mexico and then illegally smuggled across the border to the U.S. Dr. Ravi said that the drug cartels have created, by design, a conscious and deliberate effort to create a market and a customer base. Customers die at an “acceptable” rate in their scheme. Fentanyl is 50-100 times stronger than morphine, a drug he challenged a decade ago. One Mexican cartel purchased an obsolete pill press with the Percocet imprint from the Black Market to manufacture a lookalike. Worse, the latest pills confiscated are rainbow colored to mimic candy, a serious threat for children. Dr. Ravi said that the opioid-naïve (individuals who never experience opioids) are more likely to die from a single pill or from just touching the substance.

I asked Dr. Ravi about how we are to protect ourselves and our children from addiction or death. The doctor, in his experience, cited three practices, which may seem extreme to someone who hasn’t lost a child or loved one to overdose.

First, he believes every parent should begin random drug testing on their children beginning at age 11 or 12. This will give that child an “out” when confronted with peer pressure to try a drug, since he won’t know when the random test will be given.

Secondly, while Narcan is a drug that saves lives, it is administered through a nasal spray. A better option is Zimba, (think EpiPen), which is delivered to the blood stream much sooner by a needle in the thigh. Narcan can take several minutes to be absorbed into the bloodstream and may require several doses. But what if it is not needed? No harm is done. Dr. Ravi believes that parents, teens and opioid users should carry Zimba with them. Zimba would not be used to save the carrier’s life, but it would be used to save another person.

Finally, and perhaps proactively, Education, with a capital E, may be most important. One such tool that parents, teachers and caregivers need to familiarize themselves with is the Emoji Drug Code. This code, consisting of several combinations of emojis, are used to describe illegal substances and to buy drugs with a mobile device. The code recently decoded by the DEA can be used as a tool when parents or others see a change in a child’s behavior or suspect drug use.  Visit the web page to view the code.

This leads to the next objective of Paramount Wellness Retreat and that is to educate the community. The Paramount team wants to partner with the community by holding education events and speaking at schools. In 2019-2020, 304,000 individuals were alcohol- dependent, while 187,000 individuals were illicit drug-dependent. Those numbers can only have grown through the locked-down Covid years and the increase of available drugs coming across the southern border.

If you would like to read more about addiction or to contact Paramount Wellness Retreat, visit their website at

Photo by Sally Haase



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