Recovering addicts in need of home

The Behavioral Health Board is planning to establish a residential treatment facility to serve primarily Marietta and Washington County residents whose daily functioning has become significantly impaired due to alcohol or other drug addictions. The Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing on the board’s application for a special exception to the Zoning Ordinance at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 5, at 218 Putnam St., Marietta.

Location of the proposed facility is 812 Fifth Street, Marietta. The proposed therapeutic community will be first and foremost a residence – a home that separates residents from alcohol and drugs and from the people, places, and things in their lives that support or trigger substance abuse. It will be a home where residents, who lack sufficient motivation or social supports to recover on their own, can live while receiving treatment in the home for their addictions. They can leave their destructive environments and live in a clean and sober home. Their old hiding places for alcohol or drugs will no longer be a temptation reminding them of their addictions. Residents will get individualized treatment and experience the fellowship and support of others who share their goal of recovery, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

The board plans to contract with a facility manager and treatment professionals who are experienced with proven records of success. The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services must license the facility and certify the providers using specific criteria, and then conduct reviews at least every two years. Not only the treatments offered at the home, but also the building itself will undergo inspection during the reviews. In addition, the reviews will consider any complaints about the facility or providers. This ensures quality services are being provided in a safe and healthy environment. Providers must also be certified to bill Medicaid for services in the home. For persons lacking resources or insurance, the only way they can get this treatment is by enrollment in Medicaid.

Residents will undergo random drug tests, and will also be tested immediately if there is suspicion of substance abuse. If tests indicate alcohol or drugs, other than prescriptions and others authorized, are present in a resident, that person will be required to leave the home. The application and intake process will obtain personal contacts for residents. Arrangements will be made with a contact to come for the resident who violated the home rules, or other transportation will be arranged.

Residents are expected to stay in the home for 30 to 90 days, depending on severity of their addictions. They will not just walk out the door of the home with a pat on the back and good luck wishes. This is just another step on the road to recovery. One person may be able to move back home with family, while another may no longer have a home with supportive family. The board will have recovery supports in place to help these persons acquire a place to live, food to eat, and social supports like 12-step programs to continue their quest for sobriety. One person may be able to return to employment, while another may need a job. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services can help to find jobs for persons leaving the home. The board will need the entire community to support, and invest in, these job seekers.

Persons leaving residential treatment will continue to be monitored for attendance at scheduled individual and group counseling sessions, compliance with medications, participation in peer recovery supports, and maintenance of sobriety. Each person is different and some may not need to be followed as closely as others. Since we do not live in a perfect world, relapses may occur and renewed intervention may become necessary. The board will encourage and guide the person who relapsed back into treatment before the addiction becomes full-blown again.

A recent study of drug treatment outcomes showed persons successfully completing a residential treatment program had lower levels of drug use, unemployment, criminal behavior, and indicators of depression than they had before residential treatment, versus other treatment methods. Per the National Institute of Drug Abuse, if a person completes 90 days of continuous care, there is an 80% chance the person will reach 6 months of sobriety. If the person reaches 6 months, there will be a 50% chance of reaching one year of living drug free. If the person reaches 1 year, there is a 50% chance of reaching 2-5 years of sustained recovery. At five years of recovery, the illness is considered in remission. Generally, if 100 persons are in continuous treatment for 90 days, 20 of them will remain drug free for the next 2-5 years, and likely the rest of their lives. Recent studies show outcomes may improve significantly with increased participation in peer recovery supports, family involvement, and community support, by 15%.

David K. Browne is executive director of the Washington County Behavioral Health Board. Behavioral Health Matters appears on the Opinion Page on the last Saturday of the month.