Just as pipes need repaired and highways updated, more infrastructure is needed to bring a 20th-century drug recovery system into the 21st century, she says.
And there are gaps in the region.
More family doctors and nurse practitioners are needed to identify and address addiction, said McMahan, Allen County health commissioner. A system of peer support for recovering addicts should also be developed.
But chief among the needs, local authorities say, is transitional residential housing for those needing intensive care. While Park Center plans a 78-bed facility next year, it will house only people in the criminal justice system, a fraction of those who likely need care, its CEO says.
What has emerged as the best way to treat addiction is medication-assisted treatment. MAT – the use of alternative drugs to normalize brain chemistry, counseling, peer and family support – is promoted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as an effective detox method. Typically, suboxone, vivitrol or methadone substitutes for heroin and is gradually reduced as the patient receives counseling and peer support.
It is developing into a treatment model similar to any chronic disease such as congestive heart failure or diabetes, McMahan said. It is a multi-discipline system with medicine, counseling and intense outpatient treatment.