Opioid crisis: Stigma, roadblocks to treatment

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Opioid crisis: Stigma, roadblocks to treatment

The stigma surrounding drug addiction and the roadblocks to getting into treatment were topics of conversation more than once at recent meetings on the local opioid crisis.

“There’s a lot of stigma,” Lori Ziolkowski, vice president of Families Against Narcotics Great Lakes Bay Region Chapter and professor at Delta College, said at a recent roundtable meeting set at the request of U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar. Moolenaar was seeking information about addiction and what is further needed to address it.

Ziolkowski said her daughter — a straight A student — has been sober for just over 22 months now, and the experience led her to help start up the local FAN chapter. She said she’s gotten an overflow of response including many people who told her not to tell but they were struggling too.

“This is not an epidemic of bad parenting,” she said. “We are living in a very different time.”

The stigma about drug addiction combines with the roadblocks to getting treatment.

Sam Price, president and CEO of the Ten16 Recovery Network, said the intended first step in the recovery journey is detox, followed by residential treatment then outpatient services.

Both he and Lori Wood, co-founder of For A Brighter Tomorrow, said people need to get into detox when they need it or they will put it off. And from there, the road into residential treatment needs to be shorter.

“I get calls from people who want to go into detox right now,” Wood said, adding so many are lost because there isn’t a bed available right then. That gives people time to change their minds about getting clean, Price explained.

Once they get out of detox a bed in residential treatment is needed right then, but patients have to wait between two weeks and a month to get in, Wood said, adding that lets people go back to their old ways, and causes overdoses because their tolerance level is down.

Compounding the entry into treatment is the worry of how to pay for it and further services.

“It’s a complex issue,” including insurance and Medicare, Price said. Commercial coverage is worse than public insurance, requiring a huge copay forcing parents into financial moves such as putting a second mortgage on their homes to get their child clean. It also doesn’t cover a lot of things that are needed for recovery, he said.

“It took everything we had to pay for recovery services,” Wood said.

Wood has two daughters, one in recovery and one lost to a drug overdose. “As a parent who lost a child, it is important for me to find a way to help,” she said of why she helped found For A Brighter Tomorrow. The organization helps pay for counseling, transportation and sober housing.

More than 200 people have gone to the organization for help, and most are on state aid, Wood said, adding no insurance covers drug testing which and can cost $100 a month.

That’s a problem, especially when people in recovery don’t have full time jobs, she said. “It takes everything they have just to stay sober for a day.”

This is the fourth in a series of Daily News articles examining the topic of drug addiction.


Kelly [email protected]       Published 1:28 am, Friday, February 2, 2018

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