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Northwell Health creates treatment program with a focus on the aviation industry

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FAR ROCKAWAY, QUEENS— "Life before I had the problem was suppressing, covering. It's not something that I woke up yesterday saying you know what? Today I’m gonna deal with these issues by drinking and becoming an alcoholic," Ron Negron said.

Ron Negron started flying when he was only 14 years old. He flew with the civil air patrol and just a few years out of college, he was working for a major carrier out of JFK.

That’s when the social drinking began.

"I met with my friends. They were drinking, I was drinking with them and so I was learning the culture. We would go out. Then 9/11 hit and I remember watching that out of Boston at the airport thinking who could use a plane to... That really hit hard," Negron reflected.

After that, Negron’s drinking continued to get worse. It was so bad, he lost his job because of it.

He says he spent his days, weeks and months trying to juggle work and drinking.

He was grounded by the FAA, so he joined the military.

"Things were great. I was flying all over the world. When we do debrief, they have a pub right there so I started drinking with the guys," Negron said.

He was discovered passed out in a dumpster, that's when the military discharged him and told him to get help.

"I remember flying back on the plane and watching "Flight." I remember watching that and thinking that’s who I am," Negron remembered.

Ron says he searched the internet using the keywords: pilot, alcohol and flying.

Northwell Health popped up with a program catered to people in aviation.

That’s where he met social worker, Lois Cohen, who’s also a former flight attendant.

"I started the program at the Far Rockaway Treatment Center to specialize in addiction treatments for the aviation industry. This was a vulnerable population. There's a lot of isolation, there's a lot of time in hotels," Cohen said.

Ron finally got the helped he needed, meeting with Lois sometimes two, three times a week until he was able to figure out and deal with the underlying issues.

"Not only has the addiction field grown, we know more and more how to help people, the science of addiction treatment has improved," Director of Substance Abuse Services at Zucker Hillside Hospital, Bruce Goldman said.

"Where would you be without this program?" Mr. G asked.

"Wow. Lost, still lost and hiding. I don’t know ," Negron said.

The Far Rockaway Treatment Center is one of Northwell Health's five outpatient treatment centers.

If you're looking for help, you can reach out to the Far Rockaway Treatment Center at 718- 868- 1400.

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