Help available for Holmes County residents battling addiction

*This story originally appeared in The Budget’s Local Edition on Sept. 13, 2017

By Stacey Carmany
The Budget

There are plenty of substance abuse treatment options available in Holmes County. There’s also financial assistance that can help individuals pay for the cost of treatment.

One of the biggest obstacles, however, has been getting the word out that help is available in the local community, according to Judy Wortham Wood, executive director for the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Wayne and Holmes Counties. “The biggest challenge is letting people know that treatment is available and that treatment works and people recover,” she shared. “One of the challenges for Holmes County is getting everybody in treatment. Not everyone realizes that treatment is available.”

Treatment is available through the board’s agency partners Anazao, OneEighty and The Counseling Center of Wayne and Holmes County. Wood noted that all three agencies are license-certified for drug and alcohol treatment, and all have offices in both Wayne and Holmes Counties. “We contract with each of those agencies, and people don’t have to come ask the Mental Health and Recovery Board for treatment,” Wood stated. “They can just get it from those agencies, and on a sliding fee scale. We pay for anyone who can’t pay for the services themselves.”

Wood noted, hwever, that the sliding scale is considered the pay of last resort, meaning that if an individual has Medicaid or private insurance, treatment is billed through those plans first. “It pays first, then our funding through the agencies would automatically pay next,” she explained.  

For those struggling with heroin or opiate use, the board’s partner agencies are able to offer medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies. MAT is primarily used for the treatment of addiction to opioids such as heroin and prescription pain relievers.

“We use Suboxone or Vivitrol, but suboxone first, to essentially get the person off of the other drugs so that they can get the treatment they need and they can get the supports,” Wood shared. “A lot of folks think, for drugs in particular, for heroin or prescription pain medication or methamphetamine, they don’t realize that those services are available.”

Both medications are approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat opioid dependence and have been shown to help normalize brain chemistry by blocking the euphoric effects of alcohol and opioids, relieve physiological cravings and normalize body functions without the negative effects of the abused drug, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA.

Funding for the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Wayne and Holmes County comes through a combination of local, state and federal funding sources.

The agency recently received a grant from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, earmarked for a Criminal Justice Behavioral Health project. Wood noted that the money is being used to fund half of a position focusing on opiate treatment within the Holmes County Jail.

“We’re working closely with the jail through our Criminal Justice grant that we just received,” Wood stated. “That will provide half a position in the jail with Holmes County to assure that folks who need treatment can receive treatment and treatment will be coordinated upon discharge from the jail, including medication-assisted treatment using the medication Vivitrol to stop the cravings and help people stay in recovery. Our goal is assist people with ongoing treatment to help them remain in long term recovery.”

Recovery housing is also available in Holmes County. Wood noted the house can accommodate four persons, and generally beds are available.