Michael D Karos Jr John H Kirk Janet R Meyer Patsy A Clark Dorothy J Schroeder Broncos trample the G-Men, 73-40 Rockets down the Devils, 59-55 Seven new inductees to enter WBHS Sports Hall of Fame Lady Warriors ascend to 13-1 Broncos finish 2nd of 22 teams in Hammer and Anvil Invitational Hedwig Lambert Billie G Walkup Some county offices may be moved G’town Council approves 2017 budget Family doubles in size with adoption Sardinia Mayor looks forward to 2017 2017 Fayetteville Firemen’s Festival set Floyd Newberry Jr Donna F Lang Gene Warren Dwight L Fulton Virginia A O’Neil Anne L Durbin-Thomas Marietta Dunn Charles L Latchford Broncos win ‘Battle of 32’ Lady Broncos claim win over Bethel-Tate Jays top Warriors, fall to Mustangs Lady Warriors claim top spot in SHAC with win over Lynchburg-Clay Broncos buck the Lions, 54-51 James N DeHaas Questions still linger in Stuart explosion New direction for Brittany Stykes case New public safety director now on duty in Brown Co. Fayetteville Mayor anticipates a good year for the village Chamber of Commerce announces awardees Robert Bechdolt Carl E Lindsey Audrey F Maher LeJeune Howser Tammy L Connor Henry C Mayhall Jr Chad Spilker Frank W Kemmeter Jr Wanda J Howard Dorothy Huff Colon C Malott Eastern varsity teams come out on top to capture Brown County Holiday Classic crowns WBHS Army JROTC hosts rifle shooting competition Bronco varsity wrestling team unbeaten at 8-0 Blue Jays finish 1-1 in Ripley Pepsi Classic Mona G Van Vooren Hiram Beardsworth Avery W McCleese Ethel E Long Children learn safety from ‘Officer Phil’ Microchips can help locate lost pets Local GOP plans trip to Washington Three sentenced in common pleas Estel Earhart Roy Stewart Tenacious ‘D’ leads Lady Jays to victory over Blanchester on day one of Ripley Pepsi Classic Fayetteville’s Thompson, Jester earn SWOFCA All-City honors Jays fall to Blanchester on first day of Pepsi Classic Ticket details announced for OHSAA basketball and wrestling state tournaments Jerri K McKenzie Randy D Vaughn Georgetown JR/SR high to have new library Georgetown saw many improvements in 2016 Three sentenced in common pleas court Esther O Brown G-Men go on scoring rampage for 77-41 win over Cardinals Warriors climb to 4-2 with wins over West Union, Lynchburg Rockets top Whiteoak for first win Shirley M Bray Carter Lumber closes in G’town Wenstrup looks forward to 2017 Seven indicted by county grand jury John Ruthven holds pre-Christmas Open House New pet boarding facility now open in Georgetown Denver W Emmons Carl W Liebig Mary L McKinley Blake C Roush Louis A Koewler William D Cornetet Western Brown dedicates Perry Ogden Court Lady Warrior win streak hits 5 Lady Rockets wrap up tough week on the hardwood Barons rally for win over Broncos Georgetown to hire two paid Firefighter/EMT’s Noble receives statewide law enforcement award County helps family in need after house fire Flashing signs banned in G’town historic district ‘Christmas Extravaganza’ at Gaslight Thelma L Ernst Roy L Bruce Ken Leimberger Cathye J Bunthoff Lending a holiday helping hand

Light at the end of the tunnel

Drug abuse is a serious problem in Brown County. It comes as no shock to anyone at this point that as a society, we have a problem. Brown County leads the state of Ohio in heroin overdose deaths. Weekly in the paper drugs capture the headlines and everyone’s attention, but according to the Direction of Mental Health and Addiction Services for Brown County Deanna Vietze there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Drug addiction comes with a stigma attached to it. “Junkie” has become the phrase attached to someone who suffers from addiction and Vietze said that is part of the problem. She said addiction is much like other diseases people are faced with each and everyday. When comparing drug addiction to someone having type II diabetes there are many similar factors. Type II diabetes is generally caused by lifestyle factors of people predisposed to the condition. An obese person who develops diabetes is no different that a person who develops an addiction, the difference becomes the stigma associated with the disease. However, not everyone who develops type II diabetes is a result of lifestyle choices. But if a person is known to be borderline diabetic, they can make lifestyle changes and not develop the disease. However, if the person quits those changes, they disease will take over the body. It is very similar to someone recovering from drug addiction. If they stop using and change their lifestyle, they can live a full functioning life. If they return to drug use, the results can be catastrophic or even fatal.

According to Vietze, people seeking treatment for drug abuse have intensive outpatient treatment, individual treatment with a counselor, and medicated assisted treatment in Brown County.

The medicated assisted treatment may be the best option for Brown County. The drug is called Vivitrol, and it helps fight opiate addiction by blocking the euphoric effects of heroin. The treatment is a once per month injection that can keep a user off because it does not lead to the ‘high’ feeling according to Vietze.

“It was initially designed for to treat alcohol uptake, but then they realized it could be used to fight opiates,” Vietze said. “Medicated assisted treatment is the ‘gold star’ treatment so to speak. The say without a MATs treatment the likelihood of recovery is very slim. The other MATs treatment is Suboxone, but we don’t have that in the county. However, we can refer to agencies that do.”

Vietze said Suboxone treatment is worrisome to a lot of people because it carries a street value. Why Vivitrol blocks the high, Suboxone works as a replacement for the high and gives the user a high feeling with limited risk. Research suggest Suboxone may be as addicting as heroin when abused for prolonged periods of time, but Vivitrol comes with much less risk.

While Vivitrol is a safer alternative, not everyone is eligible to use the drug for treatment. Vietze said a person has to have a healthy liver in order to be eligible. A person who has uncontrolled Hepatitis C, cirrhosis of the liver, or other damaging disease might not have the option for Vivitrol.

“You can still have Hepatitis C, if it’s under control, and still take the injection,” Vietze said. “You have to do a pretty extensive liver panel and the doctor makes the decision. If it is decided that that’s not an option, then the can be referred somewhere else. I am working with Talbert House to make Suboxone available to those folks who are committed to doing something, but not widespread to anyone.”

While Vivitrol has been available for the last three years, maybe seeking help do not take advantage of the treatment option. The option comes with a major string attached to begin treatment. The person has to be clean when the treatment starts.

“You have to be clean 7-14 days before taking it and I think that freaks a lot of people out,” Vietze said. “They cannot commit to not using or they get right to the cusp of the injection and then they go an use and you can’t have it if you are dirty at the time.”

Vietzes also said that some suggest the lack of use of Vivitrol is because it is a monthly injection and not a daily pill or injection. She said since a lot of users become so used to taking something daily or shooting up daily that mentally, they do not think the treatment is working. Another problem for Vivitrol treatment comes if the user stops treatment of Vivitrol and the opiate high is no longer blocked, a person body is not used to high amounts of heroin and overdoses occur, much the same as a user who has spent time in jail and continues to use upon release.

Treatment options instead of jail time is something Mental Health and Addiction services are working toward at the misdemeanor level of the court. Vietze said they had been working with Municipal Court Judge Joe Worley for a long time to get an option in place for someone to seek treatment rather than jail time. Vietze hopes the treatment option will be successful and move into the felony side at Common Pleas Court. The treatment option would be up to both the criminal and the judge as to who is eligible. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, a majority of low-level crimes in the county can be traced back to drug use and abuse, not every drug user is a criminal.

The biggest concern for anyone facing an addiction may be the cost of the treatment. According to Vietze, Vivitrol is medicaid eligible and for those not on medicaid, Mental Health and Addiction Services picks up the tab for a lot individuals seeking treatment.

“The Board covers indigent folks, those who fall into the category, and honestly a majority of Brown County folks,” Vietze said.”I hesitate to say this, but a lot are covered by Medicaid and Medicaid pays for Vivitrol and treatment stuff. If they fall in the gap of uncovered then State and Federal Funds help pay for that. One of our jobs is to contract for services for those folks through providers, here Talbert House of Brown County Recovery are our agency. They have a sliding fee scale. For example someone works a little bit but does not enough money, we look where they fall and they pay for example 10 percent and we cover indigent totally as well 100 percent for some. Money should not be a factor.”

While Vivitrol seems like the easiest option, it is not a cure all for the disease. A person still has to want to recover. Vietze said all of the treatment in the world would not help someone if they did not want to recover from the disease. She also said ending the stigma attached to mental health and addiction would put everyone on the right road to overcoming this public health crisis. Vietze will continue to work with the Coalition for a Drug Free Brown County to help fight the disease and stigma that is burdensome on an entire system . Addiction put burdens of everything from the court, the jail, prosecutor’s office, the schools, and everything in between. Billions of tax dollars go to fight the disease annually. Vietze said with encouragement and treatment recovery is possible and is hopeful of all the work everyone is putting forth to make it happen. She said it won’t happen overnight, but together, we can change the stigma and make it work.

Vietze said she has a phrase she likes to use when talking about addiction – she said she always says “recovery is beautiful.”

Underused treatment option could be lifesaver

By Brian Durham

bdurham@civitasmedia.com

Reach Brian Durham at 937-378-6161 or on Twitter @brianD1738.

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2016 News Democrat