PUTNAM COUNTY — According to the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities, it is estimated that over 1.1 million or one in 10 Ohioans are addicted to alcohol and/or other drugs. Additionally, in the period from 1979 to 2012, prescription drugs led to a larger overdose epidemic than illicit drugs. The Ohio Department of Health reported that in 2012, five Ohioans died ever day from an unintentional drug overdose. That’s one every five hours.

People take prescribed opioid medications to combat pain, severe coughing and other health problems. Tolerance and dependence are common side effects of pre­scribed opioid medication. Tolerance and dependence also occur in people who abuse medications or take heroin. Over time, they need to take opioids just to feel normal because the substance has made changes to their brain. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration documented opioid addiction as a chronic disease, one that’s a permanent condition, but one that can be managed. Help usually includes, counseling and medication-assisted treatment, also called drug replacement therapy, using methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. Methadone and buprenorphine trick the brain into thinking it is still getting the problem opioid. Naltrexone blocks the effect of opioid drugs.

The counseling/replacement combo is generally considered the best way to treat opiate addiction. Aaron Baumgartner, Executive Director of Pathways Counseling Center, Ottawa, confirmed that, currently, best practices for opiate addiction include some form of medication assisted treatment (MAT) along with outpatient services. Yet funding and treatment aren’t so easy to come by.

“Currently the State of Ohio is holding resources for Counties,” said Mike Ruhe, Executive Director of the Mental Heatlh, Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Board of Putnam County.

The Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) administers two separate federal block grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant (approximately $62.6 million) is a major funder of addiction prevention and treatment services in Ohio. According to the OhioMHAS, Putnam County will receive a total of $87,436 in SAPT funding in 2015.

The Community Mental Health Block Grant (approximately $14 million) provides funding to ADAMH/CMH (Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health/Community Mental Health) Boards for recovery supports, as well as treatment services for low income persons without Medicaid or other insurance. Putnam County does not appear on the CMH allocation report for 2015.

In 2015, OhioMHAS has set aside Continuum of Care funds for community methodone therapy programs in eight counties, the closest of which is in Lucas County.

“We have submitted a regionalized plan for approximately 14 counties,” said Ruhe. “Basically it is up to the state what resources will be spent where. So far we have received nothing.”

Last year, 23 out of the 850 Pathways clients had a primary diagnosis of some kind of opiate issue.

“We have been given no additional dollars to increase our (very expensive) psychiatric time,” said Baumgartner. “Furthermore, we currently contract with Blanchard Valley Hospital for the doctor’s hours and we have been told that there is no more time available. The opiate clients, like all other clients, must still wait three months to see the psychiatrist. The issue that compounds this treatment plan is this: we currently know of no family doctors in the county who practice MAT for opiate addiction (we’re checking on this). Opiate clients can receive outpatient services from us in a matter of days but MAT with our doctor is not available for three months from their assessment.”

Because of this, Putnam County is considering looking into several means to remedy the barrier between treatment for opiate addiction and Putnam County residents and their families seeking help.

Next week: Putnam County works to cut down the wait time for opioid addiction services.


story created on Tuesday 8/26/2014 at 5:24:07 pm by Anne Coburn-Griffis
story modified on Tuesday 8/26/2014 at 10:00:41 pm by Kirk Dougal