The surge in opioid addiction in every socioeconomic sector of society has become such a large problem that chemical addiction has demanded more attention and focus, says Pam Gill, president and CEO of Recovery Resources.
“There certainly has been a huge burst in a need for treatment related to opioids. While alcoholism originally was our focus when we were founded in 1955, addiction to opioids is now a huge problem.
“Regretfully, the services of Recovery Resources will never be irrelevant,” Gill says.
Awareness of near crisis
Recovery Resources offers prevention, intervention, treatment and supportive services to help launch, manage and sustain recovery from mental illness, alcoholism, drug and other addictions, including gambling.
Awareness of recovery gets a boost every September, when the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration sponsors Recovery Month to increase visibility and understanding of mental and substance abuse issues and celebrate those who recover.
“With opioids and heroin addiction, it is not the image people used to have where it was the back alley scene; this is every day, and it is everywhere,” she says.
“Some of it comes in the form of heroin, prescription drugs or prescription drugs that lead to heroin.”
Heroin-related overdose deaths in the U.S. have nearly quadrupled since 2002 and use of the drug has increased by 63 percent, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There also has been a surge in heroin production and trafficking, making the drug inexpensive.
Gill says the organization unfortunately sees a lot of drug overdoses with opioids, mostly due to a combination of not knowing what is in the drug on the street or perhaps taking too high of a dosage.
“With drugs purchased on the street, people aren’t necessarily sure what that drug has been cut with,” she says.
“Additionally, we know that relapse can be part of recovery. If they have a relapse, sometimes the opioid might be too high a dose for them.”
When people relapse on the same amount of heroin they used when they were active drug users, they are more susceptible to overdose because their tolerance for the drug has dropped during recovery.
One of the recent trends has been that more states, including Ohio, are allowing expanded use of the overdose reversal drug naloxone. A timely injection of naloxone rapidly reverses the respiratory suppression of heroin overdose, a major cause of death in opioid addiction.
In 2014, Gov. John Kasich signed HB 170 into law expanding the use of naloxone so that first responders can administer the drug, and family and friends can get prescriptions for loved ones at risk of overdosing.
Recovery Resources has participated in community events where families have been given naloxone kits.
“They know their child or loved one has an addiction, and the family is taught how to administer this if they find them unresponsive — and can literally save their life,” Gill says.
Employment, group homes
Gill is especially proud of the work Recovery Resources does with its employment services.
“We are recognized as one of the experts in town as far as getting people back to work,” she says. “Last year we placed 170 people in full- and part-time jobs in the community. At any time, we are assisting about 400 people, either helping them identify what type of work they would like to do, where they would like to work, job coaching for resumes and interview skills, helping to connect with different jobs, and then staying in touch after employment begins.”
Recovery Resources has nine residential sites for a total of 77 beds. All of them are for individuals who are in recovery and/or who have a mental illness. Some subsidies offset the costs but individuals also have to contribute.
One of the sites recently has been converted into a Recovery House for nine women.
“These are women who will have already gone through treatment,” Gill says. “The goal is to keep them stable and to help them maintain their path to recovery. There are rules to which everyone has to abide, which includes drug and urine testing.
“The objective is that they will be able to move on to more independent living. And that’s really what it is about.
“These extra steps we provide and these initiatives with employment, with housing, keep individuals in the community, out of the hospitals, emergency rooms and the criminal justice system.”
How to reach: Recovery Resources, (216) 431-4131, www.recres.org