Substance Abuse Help Turns the Corner
The targeted programs in Marshall County, West Virginia and Marion County, Indiana were the first cause for applause. By the time word arrived re statewide initiatives in Georgia and Texas we had reason for a standing ovation. Why? Because the great, good efforts in question prove that substance abuse help is turning the corner away from hard to get. Heck, it may even be making its way toward welcome.
That seems to be the prevailing sentiment anyway. Okay, so maybe we’re reading a whole lot into what’s really just a handful of action. The thing is these efforts are coming from places that generally rank low on the substance abuse help charts. Oh, it’s not that these parts of the country are entirely without helping hands, mind you. It’s just that these areas never seem to have enough addiction treatment facilities to meet the needs of its citizenry.
Now, we don’t know whether or not the lack is due to legislative disinterest, a shortage of funding, public perception or what. There could be a hundred other reasons, large and small. We simply read the writing on the wall. And what we’re reading shows that what was then most decidedly isn’t what will be tomorrow. Not if the following reports are any indication anyway.
Yep, the following counties and states are stepping up their substance abuse help game — big time. And we couldn’t be happier.
West Virginia RISE
RISE which stands for Resources, Inspiration, Strategies, and Education. Coalition Engagement Specialist Martha Polinsky says it’s a group of community leaders and everyday citizens who’ve come together in order to make the greatest possible impact. Unlike previous catch-all programs however, RISE will be dedicated to one thing and one thing only: youth substance abuse.
Yep, Polinsky believes that by focusing on youth RISE will be much better poised to prevent the next generations from becoming reliant on drugs and alcohol. How? By giving this generation agency.
“With youth you usually start with alcohol, marijuana,” Polinsky told WTRF‘. “Even tobacco, vaping, pills. If we can catch them before they get rolling, then maybe we can lower the numbers later on down the road.”
Polinsky, who also works with Reynolds Memorial Hospital’s BreakThru program, says the team has already held a meeting mapping out the region’s hotspots.
“It’s our first step in assessment,” she told WTOV. “To see the activities going on that we’re going to eventually be addressing.”
The Youth Services Specialist also said: “From there, we will create a strategic plan with everyone’s input, then implement that with as many partners in the community as we can.”
As RISE moves forward, the mapping information can be used in youth-targeted trainings and campaigns.
Indiana’s Stronger with Support
Jail and overdose. Those seem to be the only two options left for the 900 Marion County residents who are currently facing felony syringe possession charges. Well, Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine wants to change all that. So does Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears. So together they’ve launched a new diversion program that will provide a third option — addiction treatment.
The program is called named Stronger with Support. It will give drug offenders the opportunity to enter addiction treatment and to receive other needed services. Dr. Caine says instead of jail time participants will now be able to work to get well.
Prosecutor Mears concurs.
“We are not looking to punish individuals who have substance abuse issues,” Mears told WFYI. “We’re looking to see what we can do to change behavior.”
The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office will be making the necessary referrals. Grant funding is coming from the Indiana Department of Health. It is hoped that once the initial 900 offenders get through the program, the effort can expand to those facing minor drug charges. As you might suspect, the Marion County Public Defender’s Office is also fully on board.
We wish them all the best!
Meanwhile in Texas and Georgia
According to a staff report issued by the Corsicana Daily Sun, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is about to bestow $210 million in emergency grants upon the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. That’s right. $210 million. $135.6 of those millions is meant for substance use prevention, substance use disorder treatment and recovery support. The remaining $74.5 million is for community mental health services.
Some funding is also meant to go toward diversion services. This will give mental health professionals the capacity to respond with law enforcement when someone needs mental health or substance use disorder treatment instead of jail or an emergency room.
The HHSC block grant funding was approved through the Texas Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021. SAMHSA has allocated the moneys in order to ramp up mental health and substance use disorder services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic has created much higher demand for mental health and substance use disorder services across Texas,” said HHS Deputy Executive Commissioner Sonja Gaines. “The federal emergency funding will allow us to address challenges associated with the impact of COVID-19 and help get Texans who need behavioral support on the road to recovery.”
Georgia, for its part, just passed an anti-kickback statute (AKS). That’s right. Senate Bill 4 (SB4) is aimed at combating abuse in the addiction treatment arena, specifically as it concerns patient brokering. In fact, according to BakerHostetler, who wrote the report for JDSupra, the bill says exactly that.
SB4 prohibits providers of substance abuse treatment from engaging in patient brokering, and specifically makes it unlawful for any person, including a substance abuse provider, to:
The new bill seems to echo the actions taken in the Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act of 2018 (EKRA). Or perhaps it simply makes things more enforceable. Whatever the case, we’re all for anything that stops patient brokering. We’ve seen too many people fall afoul of such practices, sometimes even lethally.
Reason for Cheering
Healing Properties sees real reason for cheering the above-mentioned efforts and actions. After all, anything that helps spread substance abuse help deserves to be cheered. We’re especially encouraged to see some of our less addict-friendly regions so seriously step up to the plate. It’s time we all rid ourselves of bias and stigma and instead get to providing assistance, wherever and however we can. Too many people are suffering to do anything less.
What about you? Are you suffering from addiction? Could you use some substance abuse help? It’s out there, you know. Now, as you see, more than ever. You don’t need to be in Texas or Georgia (or Indiana or West Virginia) either. You don’t even have to be in Florida. (Though it’s an increasingly sober state.) You just need to pick up the phone and call. We’d be glad to sort you out, wherever you are.