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00000174-c556-d691-a376-cdd69e980000Day after day, week after week, the headlines in Northeast Ohio and across much of the country contain news of tragic loss: lives lost to opioids. It’s a problem that knows no bounds: geography, race, gender, level of education or income.The problem took on new urgency this summer as the powerful elephant sedative, Carfentanil, began hitting the streets. First responders armed with their only weapon, the overdose antidote Naloxone, have struggled to keep up with what’s become an overwhelming problem. It’s an issue that’s straining public and social resources. What has become clear is that business as usual is not going to fix the problem.WKSU news has been covering the unfolding crisis. Tuesdays during Morning Edition, the WKSU news team digs even deeper. WKSU reporters will examine what’s led us here and what might be done to turn the tide. Support for Opioids: Turning the Tide in the Crisis comes from Wayne Savings Community Bank, Kent State University Office of Continuing and Distance Education, Hometown Grocery Delivery, Mercy Medical Center, AxessPointe Community Health Center, Community Support Services, Inc., Medina County District Library and Hudson Community First.00000174-c556-d691-a376-cdd69e980001

CommQuest Expands Women's Residential Treatment, One of the Biggest Needs of the Opioid Crisis

Keith Hochadel

One of the state’s most active addiction-treatment programs is expanding its services for women’s and outreach. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze spoke with the head of the Stark County nonprofit CommQuest about the half-million-dollar effort.

CommQuest provided detox, residential treatment and outpatient services to close to 6,000 people last year. That includes housing, counseling and treatment at Deliverance House, a 90-day women’s residential program in Canton. It often has a waiting list of more than a month.

Women in addiction with few resources
CommQuest CEO Keith Hochadel says women’s centers are among the biggest unmet need in the state, which is why his agency is going to convert a former motel in Massillon into 16-bed residential center.

“Typically ... there might be one women’s residential bed, maybe two (available statewide) and most of the time they’re not in high- population density areas. And because women often don’t have a safe, drug-free place to go when they leave treatment or when they’re trying to get into treatment, there becomes this extended stay in residential care.”

The new program in Massillon will mirror what’s done at Deliverance House, a former nursing home that focuses on recovery.

'I'm seeing more and more folks self-refer themselves to treatment, which is a really, really good thing. People (are) recognizing on their own that they need to get some help.'

There’s “intense residential treatment where the women are in group counseling a significant chunk of the day. ... The majority of them have had some significant trauma so we’re a closed group, which means a group of women start together for the eight weeks.

Through getting a job is an early part of the program, Hochadel says that ratchets up after about 65 to 70 days. Over time, the women also earn passes to visit with family over weekends. And some have children younger than 5 come and live with them at Deliverance.

“”We also encourage them to get AA or NA sponsors, we encourage them to go to 12-step meetings; we bring 12-step meetings into the facility as well.”

Most importantly, says Hochadel, “We really provide them with the comfort that they need, and the safety they need.”

Is it working?
So far, Hochadel say, he’s seen nothing in the broad statistics that say the opioid epidemic is lessening. “I’m not seeing any data, any statistics, any number that says it’s getting any better.”

But, he adds, “I’m seeing more and more folks self-refer themselves to treatment, which is a really, really good thing. People (are) recognizing on their own that they need to get some help.”

What happens to treatment if Obamacare goes away?
The half-million dollars to set up the women’s program and, separately, expand outpatient services in Massillon comes from local groups, including the Stark County Mental Health and Addiction Recovery board and local foundations.

But the ongoing efforts of CommQuest and others rely heavily on the expansion of Medicaid and other health-insurance coverage that came from the Affordable Care Act, which Congress is trying to repeal.

Hochadel says there’s no way to measure now exactly what the impact will be.

“The state’s invested a lot of money in this behavioral-health redesign with the idea that we’ll be able to continue to provide coverage. ... I think the worst case scenario is we go back to 2010, 2012, where there were less dollars available for treatment.

“It was not a really good time for receiving either mental health or drug and alcohol treatment. I don’t want to us to go back to that.

“There’s reason to be concerned, but I also think we live in a state where the governor and an opiate epidemic will continue to take precedent to make sure that people receive the care that they need.

CommQuest’s expanded outpatient program is expected to serve 1,500 people the first year. The women’s treatment center is expected to house 60 women in its first year.