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