BY DEBBIE PAGE
Randall Bachman of Integrated Care of Greater Hickory recently updated members of Drug-Alcohol Coalition of Iredell about the treatment and recovery services the organization is offering in Statesville.
Bachman wants to get the word out to the community about the provider’s integrated services to achieve recovery from depression, anxiety, trauma, and addiction.
The 12-year-old, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services-certified facility grew out of a family medical practice in Hickory after providers saw the growing need for mental health and substance abuse treatment services in the area.
They developed an integrated care approach that added counseling and medically assisted treatment (MAT) for those with opiate or alcohol addictions. Though they agree that harm reduction is important, Integrated Care requires total abstinence to enter its treatment programs.
The program promotes self-sufficiency and pro-social life choices through effective person-centered education, training, and treatment programs. All treatment plans combine medication management along with weekly intensive individual therapy as well as group counseling sessions.
The program also mandates 12-step group attendance at least once per week to get clients connected to recovery community support.
“One of the most important pieces there is getting people to engage and take part in these recovery communities,” said Bachman. “They need to start getting back around people to start getting that support that is very desperately needed.”
Medication-assisted treatment includes buprenorphine-containing medications (Suboxone, Subutex, Zubsolv). Through support and counseling, Integrated Care staff work with clients to focus on recovery and gradually taper off replacement medications.
Integrated Care offers both Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Programs (SAIOP) and Substance Abuse Comprehensive Outpatient Treatment (SACOT). These intensive programs allow those struggling with addiction to receive the extensive care necessary to start the recovery process, without needing to attend an inpatient detox program.
The SAIOP program, designed for people who are are capable of sobriety but struggling, offers three-hour counseling sessions three times a week. The SACOT program offers five day a week, four hours per day, counseling for those in living situations that are counter-productive to maintaining sobriety.
Both programs are offered through telehealth sessions due to COVID-19 precautions. Integrated Care is also offering some in-person counseling if the client prefers. Peer support helps get clients to sessions, takes them to meetings, or drives clients to the soup kitchen, especially those who are homeless.
In addition to counseling and treatment, peer support staff assist with transportation to appointments, finding housing, getting food stamps, or other assistance clients need.
After it saw a need for transitional housing, Integrated Care purchased an apartment complex in Lincolnton to offer short-term community recovery housing as clients stabilize, acquire employment, and move toward self-sufficiency in recovery.
“The goal is getting them to independent living in a year,” said Bachman.
In Hickory, the staff realized that although short-term options were available, no long-term housing existed for those in recovery. With the help of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, they built long-term housing for clients to access.
Bachman has already seen a need in Iredell County for MAT services for alcohol and for those needing help with methamphetamine use disorder, which they have already started to offer in Statesville. “We started to offer some of those resources that are not being offered as broadly.”
Bachman hopes to get more referrals from area medical providers who have patients struggling with substance use disorder. Intake paperwork is available online at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe-ZteetxfH6iYV16j7I2Xi7vLeqKgDXm9U9ybz8NFXL1OctQ/viewform.
Bachman asks that providers email him to alert him to urgent situations at email@example.com so he can be looking for the application.
When Bachman asked DACI members to identify gaps in community services, they suggested more MAT services for alcohol addiction, a comprehensive treatment program for Statesville’s serious methamphetamine problem, and both transitional and long-term housing for those in treatment and recovery programs.
Integrated Care accepts private insurance, Medicaid, and some grant and state funded spots for those without healthcare access.
DACI Director Jill McLelland reported that the coalition received another N.C. Opioid Response Grant, double the size of last year, that will be used to purchase more lockboxes for giveaway events and for agencies to give their clients.
Also, the Access to Treatment campaign is now underway to reach more people who are having mental health issues during the pandemic. In addition to social media outreach, DACI created a “rack card” to be placed in area healthcare providers offices, libraries, food pantries, agencies, churches, and other places to reach folks in need.
The cards have the web address for the DACI resource guide (http://daciredell.org/wp-content/uploads/Iredell-County-Resource-Guide-1-1.pdf), the Partners Behavioral Health hotline (1-888-235-HOPE (4673)), and the NC 211 helpline (2-1-1 or 1-888-892-1162) on the front side and resources for food, housing, clothing, healthcare, and utility help on the back.
DACI is also distributing business cards with this information to law enforcement agencies, EMS, and other first responders to distribute to those they encounter in need of services.
McLelland also announced a partnership with Iredell-Statesville Schools to provide several online forums for parents, students, and community members over the next few months relating to substance misuse, vaping, and mental health issues.
The project is in the planning stages and area experts will be recruited to present and answer participants questions.
McLelland also announced that a DACI improvement survey will soon go out to coalition members to help gather feedback current programs and activities and assess future needs that the organization can address.
The next DACI meeting is set for Monday. March 1, at 11 a.m. Michelle Wigley, Substance Abuse Coordinator for the Iredell-Statesville Schools, will present student survey data on health, mental health, and substance misuse. Contact McLelland at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to join the coalition or be added to the Zoom meeting.