Grant provides Guidance Center with opioid treatment
Opportunities to turn lives around for those suffering from opioid addiction continue to expand in Polk County. A State Opioid Response (SOR) grant to Western Arkansas Counseling and Guidance Center, commonly known as The Guidance Center will provide Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for people suffering from opioid use disorder.
The 12 months leading up to July 2020 there were 83,000 overdose deaths in the US, that’s an increase of 21 percent over the previous year.
Kasey Wilson, co-occurcring Director of The Guidance Center, said the main goals of the treatment are to prevent deaths and heal families and communities.
“The bottom line is overdose deaths cause the loss of loved ones, neighbors, friends, mothers, father, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts, and uncles,” Wilson said.
“Then next to that is loss of employment, parents losing their children to foster care (not that this isn’t a big problem that faces the community, but at least no one is dead). Someone that loses their life to an opiate overdose has no chance at recovery.”
Wilson said he thinks of opiate addiction as a community disease.
“Meaning it affects the whole community. Some may be inclined to judge a recovering addict, but these days most who are suffering from the addition were normal folks,” he said.
“They played high school football, worked at the grocery store, or owned the corner store and one day they went to the doctor with some pain. They were given some medication and next thing you know they were hooked,” he continued.
“Others were some kids that got into mom’s medicine cabinet and discovered the drug. They were just experimenting and didn’t mean to get hooked. These people wouldn’t wish the pain, craving, and sadness they are going through on their worst enemy.”
Wilson said an addicts life becomes about survival without the ability to process information the same way as a healthy brain.
“They are just trying to get through life right now. They are functioning through the midbrain which came about from conditioning,” he explained.
“The conditioning happened when they took the pill at first to release serotonin and get a false sense of happiness, but now it’s survival to not get sick and be able to get out of bed and act like their is some sort of normalcy in their life,” he continued.
“Through therapy we try to get the addict to start working out of the frontal lobe and process decisions before taking action. We do this with interventions such as mindfulness, finding values to move toward, goal setting, motivating change with motivation techniques.”
Part of the treatment for an individual wishing to recover from an opioid addiction is access to Suboxone (Buprenorphine/Naltrexone, which has shown to reduce mortality rates of persons with opioid use disorder by 39 percent over a 12-month period.
“This medication is known as a harm reduction tool,” Wilson said. “It reduces craving by easing withdrawal symptoms and allows addicts trying to come out of active addiction a chance to increase their quality of life by getting a job, maintaining a job, going around family during Easter and family functions instead of being sick from opiate withdrawal, and forming connections with others.” Wilson continued.
“The hope is with this increased quality of life and therapy with our Mental Health Professionals the suffering addict will make a conscience decision to titrate off the medication.”
The awarded grant will help remove the barriers for the uninsured and underinsured to receive treatment services. The grant will cover behavioral health counseling and the prescriber appointments for buprenorphine/naltrexone at clinics located in Crawford, Franklin, Logan, Polk, Scott, Sebastian counties.
The grant also includes funds to hire a Peer Recovery Support Specialist. A Peer is someone with sustained recovery and is licensed to help others in their journey of recovery through their own experience with recovery.
“Working with the peer is not mandatory, but we will suggest every client work with the peer or at least accept a phone call once a week to walk beside them in their journey of recovery,” Wilson said, noting an effort to start a special support group is underway.
“We hope to start a support group called MARA. MARA stands for ‘Medication Assisted Recovery Anonymous,’” Wilson said.
“If by chance any community members have a church, city venue, or even just a room with a bathroom and would like to donate it once hourly to the support group, it’d be appreciated.”
For more information about co-occurring (substance use and mental health) services or specifically medication assisted treatment through The Guidance Center call (479) 785-9470, or visit www.wacgc.com
The Polk County office Guidance Center can be reached at 479-394-5277.