Opioid addiction treatment services are now available close to home in northwest Georgia
Opioid use disorders are serious conditions that can negatively impact an individual’s job, family and health. Many times opioid use disorders are fatal. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), more than 47,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2017 – more than 130 every day. The Department of Health and Human Services reports that in 2018 there were more deaths from drug overdose than motor vehicle accidents across all ages.
Closer to home, in the last six years heroin deaths have increased 3844 percent in what is now called the heroin triangle of Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett and Dekalb counties in metropolitan Atlanta. Such shocking death rates have led authorities declare opioids an epidemic in the U.S.
NIDA defines opioids as drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain-relief medications available legally by prescription such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine and others. All types of opioids are addictive and all have the potential to cause overdose or death.
Although short-term use of opioids prescribed by a doctor is generally safe, the longer someone uses opioids, the higher the risk for addiction. Studies have shown that many people who become addicted first used opioids legally (i.e. with a prescription) and eventually began using higher doses or in some cases switching to heroin.
However, as is the case with any substance use disorder, recovery from opioid addiction is possible. Highland Rivers Health offers a variety of evidence-based services and supports that can help ease the symptoms of withdrawal, manage legitimate pain conditions, and help individuals transition to living without opioids.
I write about these not to advertise our services, but to assure our communities that opioid treatment and recovery services are available locally, and especially for individuals who are uninsured or have Medicaid or Medicare. Highland Rivers provides a continuum of opioid treatment and recovery services that include:
Detoxification: Highland Rivers operates three crisis stabilization units (CSUs) that provide short-term acute detoxification and psychiatric stabilization. The CSUs serve adults 18 and over who are in crisis due to substance use; severe and persistent mental illness; or co-occurring mental health and substance-related disorders. Following detoxification and stabilization, individuals are referred to treatment services most appropriate for their needs.
Intensive outpatient services: Structured as a three-phase program, the Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Program (SAIOP) ranges from 13 to 26 weeks and includes behavioral therapy and 12-step treatment services, and helps participants learn to manage life issues and day-to-day living without using mood- or mind-altering substances.
Residential treatment: Highland Rivers operates two residential substance use treatment and recovery programs, the Women’s Outreach program in Rome, and the Highland Recovery Center men’s program in Jasper. Both programs are approximately six months and available to residents in the counties served by Highland Rivers. The programs provide counseling, education, employment assistance, transition planning, after-care services and more to help individuals achieve and maintain a life in recovery.
Medication: Because some medications have been shown to benefit individuals in recovering from opioid addiction, Highland Rivers may prescribe Subutex, Suboxone or Vivitrol when clinically appropriate as part of the individual’s recovery plan. Individuals receiving medication are required to participate in outpatient services as well as education programs about the medications.
Community-based services: Addictive Disease Support Services (ADSS) are medium-intensity services that promote longterm recovery for people with addictive disease and other substance use disorders. Staff are community-based and can meet with an individual in his or her home, or locations in the community.
Because opioids can be deadly, if you are concerned about your or a loved one’s use of the drugs, take action now. To learn more about opioid treatment and recovery services or to schedule an appointment, call Highland Rivers Health toll-free at (800) 729-5700. If you need detox services after hours or on weekends and are not yet enrolled in Highland Rivers services, call the Georgia Crisis and Access Line at (800) 715-4225.
Melanie Dallas is a licensed professional counselor and CEO of Highland Rivers Health, which provides treatment and recovery services for individuals with mental illness, substance use disorders, and intellectual and developmental disabilities in
a 12-county region of northwest Georgia that includes Bartow, Cherokee, Floyd, Fannin, Gilmer, Gordon, Haralson, Murray, Paulding, Pickens, Polk and Whitfield counties.