FYI Drug Coalition 0217Members Attempt to Secure Other Services

The newly-formed Bethel Township Drug Coalition met last week to discuss moving forward after losing the direct support of McKinley Hall’s assessment services, which were offered by the treatment center last month.

Pat Banaszak of Family and Youth Initiatives is the driving force behind the local drug coalition, which was created as a result of this summer’s Drug Symposium in New Carlisle.

Banaszak has said that the need for addiction treatment in western Clark County is very great, however, many of those with drug addictions do not have transportation to get to the treatment centers in Springfield and outside the county. She said it is imperative that the treatment services be brought directly to the New Carlisle area so that those seeking help have one less obstacle to overcome in their recovery process.

Last month, Banaszak and fellow coalition member Jeff Turner met with representatives of McKinley Hall, who agreed to offer assessment services at Family and Youth Initiatives once per month. Everyone agreed that the assessments could be performed on a scheduled or walk-in basis, as those who choose to put their lives back together often decide to get clean at a moment’s notice, and should not be delayed in their path to sobriety.

The two hour-long assessments were set to begin early this month, however, Banaszak and Turner said that when the date arrived, no one from McKinley Hall showed up. One man even traveled to Family and Youth Initiatives in search of support for his addiction, which sent Banaszak and her staff scrambling to find another resource for him.

Banaszak said it is imperative that the township coalition find another treatment center with which to work on heroin and opiate addiction in western Clark County. She said she was told by McKinley Hall that no one showed up because they had not received any appointments, although their original agreement was set to take walk-ins as well.

Turner was frustrated by the center’s departure from the team, saying he remembered the counselor saying that he “would have plenty of work to do” in between assessments at the New Carlisle site. Banaszak said she was later told by McKinley Hall that they would not be available to work with the coalition in the future.

Chief Deputy Doyle Wright of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office attended last week’s coalition meeting, saying he believed that his agency played an “intricate part” in attempting to quell Clark County’s addiction problem, saying his department houses a majority of people charged in drug-related crime, however, he stressed that he wants those people to get clean and never come back to jail.

Wright spoke of the drug Vivitrol, which blocks the body’s opiate receptors for up to 28 days, and can be used by those who are serious about beating their pill or heroin addictions. He said Vivitrol was first offered in Clark County in the fall, but so far, only two people have made the commitment to receive the injections every 28 days.

“Vivitrol isn’t the answer, but it’s a good start,” said Wright.

Banaszak directed those in attendance to be on the lookout for other treatment and assessment service providers who would be willing to collaborate with the Bethel Township Drug Coalition. She also said it was important for the group to act as a resource center for those seeking help while the coalition attempts to secure a counselor or assessment services. She said it was her goal for the group to compile a resource guide so addicts know where to start their recovery.

“If you wait too long, they’ll slip back into it because they feel like no one cares,” said Banaszak.

Lori Erion of Park Layne, who founded the support group Families of Addicts, attended the coalition meeting last week to share her knowledge of addiction and addicts themselves.

Erion said the road to sobriety in our area is not a quick journey, as it is common to wait a couple of weeks to even get an assessment, and then another several weeks before counselors decide where to place an addict. She said that McKinley Hall strongly recommends that addicts attend group services every day while they wait for the outcome of their assessment, but noted that this practice is not at all practical because some cannot find transportation to Springfield every day, and others still have to go to work.

Clark County Prosecutor Dan Carey also attended the meeting, and suggested that the coalition obtain a Narcan kit and learn how to use it. Narcan is the increasingly-popular drug carried by many first responders, and is used to counteract the effects of an opiate or heroin overdose. Wright said his deputies were recently equipped with a Narcan kit in their cruisers thanks to a grant received by the Clark County Combined Health Department. His deputies carry the nasal mist form of the drug, which he said is almost impossible to misuse, although training is required before anyone is given a kit.

Carey said his office anticipates 70 overdose deaths in the county this year, along with an expected 400-500 non-fatal overdoses.

Year-to-date overdoses in the county were released at the coalition meeting, with eight reported so far in 2016, including a 12 year-old boy in Springfield and a 13 year-old girl in the county. Carey said there is no true pattern or demographic for an opiate or heroin addict, saying that the drug does not discriminate based on age, gender, or social standing.

For more information on the Bethel Township Drug Coalition, call Banaszak at 937-845-0403.

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