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Detox, treatment wait times reduced

3/16/2017 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Opiate Task Force offers update on opiate addiction problem

WEST AKRON — Those seeking help for opiate addiction are now able to get into treatment or detox much faster, sometimes as soon as the day they first contact local agencies for help.

According to data shared at the March 8 Summit County Opiate Task Force meeting, there is currently no wait for people to get into facilities offering detox in Summit County, and those sites are currently 43 percent full.

Data also shows that the wait for residential treatment is 26 days for women and  28 days for men. That’s an improvement, task force officials said, as the average wait in 2016 was 51 days.

Gerald Craig, executive director of the Summit County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health (ADM) Services Board, said additional beds were added in the past few months for both detox and residential treatment. There are 28 detox spots available and 99 residential treatment beds in the county, he said.

While the additional beds could be the reason for the reduced wait time for those seeking help, Craig said in a follow-up interview there could be other factors as well, and not necessarily positive ones.

“Right now it’s really difficult to determine why we have a lapse in our demand,” he said. “The demand for detox has declined, but that’s not necessarily because there are more beds.”

There is a natural ebb and flow, he said, but it also could be because there is more of a supply of opiates on the streets, which means users aren’t going into withdrawal and seeking help with that. Or, he added, the supply on the street might not be as lethal, which gives users more of a sense of security.

Detox, Craig said, is a time-limited medical intervention, usually between five and 10 days, for those who are trying to quit drugs. Residential treatment can last up to 90 days, he added.

Not all who are trying to get clean go into residential settings, he said.

“What we typically do is we perform an assessment once someone lands in a treatment agency and that assessment allows us to determine what level of care they need,” he said.

He explained a patient who has a positive home environment would be considered for outpatient treatment, while those who are homeless, in unstable living conditions or lack support would be candidates for residential treatment.

During the meeting, officials also talked about the ADM Board’s Addiction Helpline, which went live Jan. 17. According to data presented, in its first month the helpline received 326 calls and resulted in appointments for 133 callers. Of that number, there were 19 that did not show up for their appointments.

The average wait time for those calling for an assessment was 7.5 days. Last year, those seeking help needed to wait 51 days.

The helpline number is 330-940-1133 and it is staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. For 24-hour emergency assistance, call 330-762-6110 for a mental health emergency or 330-996-7730 for an addiction emergency.

Craig said a contingent of task force members planned to go to Columbus March 14 to testify on the state budget. Funding is something needed on a state level, Craig said.

“Summit County is pretty wealthy in terms of the scope and number of services we have, but in some of our surrounding counties, we need to bring all boats up to the same level,” he said.

Also during the meeting, attendees heard the number of drug overdose deaths for 2016 in Summit County is currently at 235, but that is not the final number, as the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office has not yet completed work on last year’s cases.

The expansion of the Quick Response Team (QRT) model to communities throughout Summit County was also addressed. QRTs are made up of public safety and addiction specialists who check on and provide resources to residents who recently overdosed.

Currently, QRTs are active in Akron, Cuyahoga Falls, Norton, Green, Stow and Tallmadge. The task force is working to get Copley, New Franklin, Hudson and Twinsburg teams established. The goal is to have all communities of more than 10,000 people with a team, officials said.

The task force will next meet June 7. The group was initially convened in February 2014 to bring together a group of key individuals and organizations committed to reducing opiate abuse through education, collaboration and the wise use of available resources.

For more information, go to www.summitcountyopiatetaskforce.org.

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