2017-10-11 / Opinions

If you’re not an addict, you know someone who needs help

By L.M. ‘MIKE’ CAUDILL

Substance Abuse Disorder, what is it?

I believe that Substance Abuse Disorder is that condition caused by an individual’s use of an addicting substance to obtain a pleasurable sensation, avoid pain or just to get back to normal, resulting in the individual’s dependence on and inability to discontinue the use of the addicting substance. What we know more succinctly as drug addiction but can also be alcohol addiction. It affects all of us. If you’re not a user, you know someone who is. If your addiction has not caused your divorce, loss of job, destruction of your family life, wasting of your family savings or avoidance by friends, you know someone who it has. If because of SUD, you are not HIV positive, afflicted with Hepatitis C, have a general decline or loss of health, you know someone who has.

The State of Kentucky lost 1,404 lives to opioid overdoses in 2016. This number represents more than 100 additional lives lost since 2015. It is not just loss of lives, as bad as that is, but it is also about the drug arrests and other related criminal activities. It’s about the spread of Hepatitis C and HIV, which is complicated by increased substance use. It knows no bounds, affecting both men and women, boys and girls, the young and the old, the poor and the rich, the educated and the uneducated, the professionals and the blue-collar workers. All of this information we’re exposed to every week through reading or watching news reports, Facebook or just talking with friends and family. The sheer size of the problem can leave us with an overwhelming sense of hopelessness about the future of our community. It seems to be overpowering, that there is no cure or hope for comprehensive treatment. What can a community do to save our neighbors, our family members, friends, children, and even ourselves?

Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation has always been active in responding to the needs of the community and most importantly, our patients’ needs. We do not have all the answers to the opioid epidemic or other forms of addiction. However, we are trying and devoting much time, energy and resources into developing real solutions that can help the afflicted members of our communities, their families and friends that love them and suffer alongside them.

With the generous cooperation of this paper, The Mountain Eagle, each week an article will appear from MCHC, one of our community partners or respected authorities in the field of SUD. The article will discuss current issues, progress and setbacks in our local effort to provide solutions and be informative as to how those individuals who are victims of SUD can find help and how their families and friends can best provide and receive the support that is needed.

This week, we want our readers to know that in an effort to reduce the drug epidemic and its impact, we are working with community partners to offer better access and multiple options for treatment, assistance and care. We at MCHC along with Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH), Addiction Recovery Care (ARC), Letcher County United for Substance Abuse Prevention (USAP), elected officials and local concerned citizens have already been very busy. Through our combined efforts we are bringing about a needle exchange program, the availability of Narcan for our first responders and needful citizens, and multiple levels of treatment options in our communities for SUD victims.

As a consortium of healthcare partners, we are developing a model of care where a person may come into the ARH emergency room due to an overdose. After receiving proper medical treatment, the individual will be offered a behavioral health assessment to establish a baseline for appropriate treatment and options. Based on this assessment and his/her needs, a patient will be offered a full range of treatment options ranging from outpatient counseling to medication assisted treatment to inpatient, residential treatment here in our own communities. Alternatively, SUD victims can present to a MCHC clinic to discuss substance use with their doctors or providers. This entry point opens up the full range of treatment options. For example, if a person is in treatment and is Hepatitis C positive or HIV positive, medical staff can begin treatment regimens to reduce infection while educating the patient about risky behaviors. Our model will also offer residential treatment through our partner Addiction Recovery Care, which prides itself on being able to locate a bed for a SUD patient in 72 hours or less. ARC has multiple facilities throughout eastern Kentucky and is currently in the process of locating a facility here in Letcher County.

MCHC and our healthcare partners want to provide comprehensive care to everyone in our communities suffering from SUD. By offering multiple treatment options, with multiple entry and access points, and with the support our partners and community members, we can offer hope and change in our community. We are developing a treatment plan that will be used in the future as a model not only for Kentucky but also of the nation. But even more importantly, we’re developing a model to help our people right here at home in eastern Kentucky.

Each week please review this column for additional information to help you and members of your families or your friends that are suffering through Substance Use Disorder. We understand you may have questions now regarding this information. You are encouraged to contact the appropriate number listed below to ask questions or request additional information.

For questions about counseling and/or treatment options, please contact Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation at 606-633- 4871.

For questions about needle exchange, please contact the Letcher County Health Department at 606-633-2945 or contact Eugene Slone with USAP at 606-633-2293.

For questions about drug disposal, please contact the Letcher County Sheriff ’s Office at 606- 633-2293 or the Jenkins City Police Department at 606-365-2696.

For questions about residential treatment and/or outpatient medication assisted treatment, please contact Addiction Recovery Care at 606-653-1131.

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