Congressman Steve Stivers (R-15) met with members of the Madison County Substance Abuse Coalition (MCSAC) before their monthly meeting Thursday afternoon.
Over 17 individuals representing an more than 10 different schools, mental health organizations, social services agencies, and local governmental bodies — including Diana L. Padrutt, Program Manager of Mental Health Services for Madison County and County Commissioner David Dhume — were on hand to discuss with the representative issues of addiction and substance abuse affecting the county.
And while strategies geared toward tackling the opioid epidemic were the bulk of the conversation, it was stressed by Stivers that abuse of other addictive substances needed addressing as well — with crystal meth poised to become as big of a problem as heroin.
“It’s not just an opioid crisis — it is a drug crisis that is tearing at the fabric of our county,” Stivers said.
Stivers spoke to the group about creating a bill for what he called “evidence-based medicine” in treatment and recovery — to build clinical data as to what proves to be effective over time — citing a paltry success rate of 30 percent to a failure rate of 70 percent.
“If we can just raise the success rate from 30 percent to 50 percent, it nearly doubles, giving us the most bang for our buck,” referring to a sum of $6 billion allotted by Congress for the drug crisis.
He also mentioned the need for sober housing — that addicts in recovery would likely fail in their attempts at sobriety if they could not remove themselves from triggers (people and situations) from their previous lifestyle.
Sober houses would best be funded through private enterprise, possibly bolstered by tax incentives, Stivers said.
Stivers made it known that he supported the use of Vivitrol over Suboxone in opioid treatment, telling an anecdote that compared “using Suboxone to treat heroin addiction is like using wine to treat alcoholism.”
According to Diana L. Padrutt, defining success in recovery was a problem unto itself.
“I don’t think there is any consistent definition of what success means,” she said. “Is success 100 percent abstinence no relapse at all? Is success harm reduction? Is success defined by the authorities and the courts? How do we define success?”
What the group could agree on were three major things that are currently lacking in the county: a drug court; a dedicated women’s recovery house; and detox facilities for adolescents under the age of 18.
Stivers was himself surprised at Madison County’s lack of a drug court and was encouraged to speak with Common Pleas Court Judge Eamon Costello and Municipal Court Judge Eric Schooley about the matter.
The coalition believed it would take somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000 to procure a house large enough to function as a women’s recovery home — and possibly more if it turned out to be the money pit that the current men’s facility has proven to be.
Stivers said that he might be able to point them in the way of possible grants, but maintained that private enterprise was the best source of funding for sober housing.
The final point — a lack of detox facilities for adolescents under the age of 18 was also a surprise to Stivers. It was something that definitely needed looking into, he said.
A main goal of MCSAC is to “formalize” their structure — to better their chances for accessing more funding on both the state and federal levels.
Reach Andrew Garrett at 740-852-1616, ext. 1616.
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