The Highland County Drug Abuse Prevention Coalition on Thursday discussed medically assisted drug treatment options, and heard from a representative from a free online directory of area social services.
Danielle Ratcliff, chief operating officer at REACH for Tomorrow, a local nonprofit, and Gena Bates, a clinic director at the Scioto Paint Valley Mental Health Center, spoke to the coalition about a strategic planning session they attended as part of a grant awarded to REACH by the Prevention Action Alliance, a drug abuse prevention agency in Columbus.
Ratcliff said the $4,000 grant will cover the cost of identifying and organizing access to medically assisted treatment (MAT) services for people in Highland County.
Bates said medically assisted treatment is an addiction therapy method that utilizes drugs such as Vivitrol, Suboxone and methadone to clinically treat opioid addiction.
According to Ratcliff, representatives from five counties attended the planning session, and organizers said Highland County is “leaps and bounds” ahead of other counties in terms of drug abuse prevention efforts.
Ratcliff and Bates spoke to the coalition about possible solutions to the various challenges Highland County residents face when it comes to utilizing MAT and other social services.
According to Bates, much of the county’s rural population lacks the resources to identify treatment options and social services. The solution, Ratcliff said, is developing an online resource or app for locals to find the appropriate services.
Miranda Gumbita, a representative from a free online social service directory, spoke to the group about developing a directory for Highland County.
Gumbita said the website, www.relink.org, is funded by a private foundation and offers a free directory of social services, including addiction recovery facilities, churches and transportation services, as well as housing, education and employment opportunities.
As information from service providers is entered into the website’s database, it becomes publicly searchable, Gumbita said.
Coalition President and REACH CEO Heather Gibson said organizers will add Highland County resources to the website’s database over the next few months, and the directory and an accompanying app will be introduced to the public at the upcoming Equipping Conference in April.
Joe Harrington, a former service provider with Scioto Paint Valley Mental Health Center, said he finds it “hard not to be skeptical” of medically assisted treatment programs. He said he is concerned that the pharmaceutical corporations that sell addiction treatment drugs are the same ones that deceptively marketed opioids as non-addictive drugs in the 1970s.
Ratcliff described the method as “just a piece of the puzzle” when it comes to treatment options, and Gibson said it’s “a matter of having as many tools in the toolbox as we can.”
A representative from Groups: Recover Together, a local Suboxone clinic regularly represented at coalition meetings, said the facility offers the drug to clients only if they attend regular counseling sessions.
In other business, the coalition discussed a number of business items during a strategic meeting prior to Ratcliff and Bate’s presentation.
The group heard various news on different initiatives, including an update on the Quick Response Team, which was able to place a woman in temporary housing to await drug treatment. Gibson said the two biggest challenges for the group are non-medical transportation for clients and re-entry programming for when they finish treatment.
The group also discussed upcoming events, such as an open house for REACH’s new training center and headquarters in Greenfield to be held March 16, and the Equipping Conference, which will be held in Hillsboro April 18.
More information on both events can be found at www.reachfortomorrowohio.org.
The Highland County Drug Abuse Prevention Coalition is a group of law enforcement officials, mental health and drug treatment service providers, people of faith and concerned citizens who meet monthly to exchange ideas on how to reduce drug abuse in Highland County.
The group meets at noon every fourth Thursday of the month in the main conference room at the North High Business Center.
The coalition can be found on Facebook by searching “Highland County Drug Abuse Coalition.”
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.