Addiction in Appalachia is met with hope

*MEDIA RELEASE-Advertorial*

July 20, 2016 PHONE: (865) 719-7221

Addiction in Appalachia is met with hope

For people living in the Appalachian corridor of East Tennessee, where mountainous terrain and deep valleys quilt the landscape in all directions, health services of any type can be hard to come by and hard to access. The obstacles and barriers are certainly no less challenging for individuals seeking a welcoming, hopeful way to receive treatment for addiction.

CARA, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016, indicates a siren of change for Congress in shifting resources from a punitive model to one of treatment and recovery. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as many as 25 million Americans are facing an addiction, 2 million alone to opiates. East Tennesseans are not immune to the costly damage of substance abuse and addiction, even life-threatening health conditions.

A siren of positive change for those dealing with addiction is good news, and when complemented with innovative programming, the siren of good news is loud and clear. With the support, encouragement, and input from Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS), Ridgeview Behavioral Health Services responded to the community need for effective and innovative substance abuse treatment through the design of STOP (Substance-abuse Treatment Outpatient Program).
Individual counseling, group therapy and intensive case-management are integral components of the program. Under the leadership of Melody Morris, a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor (LADAC), the STOP program provides outpatient, community-based substance abuse services. Another component of the program is the use of tele-health technology. Using an interactive electronic video-telecommunication technology to connect allows individuals in remote, rural areas separated by challenging geography to participate simultaneously in substance abuse treatment groups and other educational aspects of the program. Telehealth is well received by clients and allows the program to maintain a healthy group size. This, in turn, creates a larger, more sustainable recovery community.

STOP created strategic partnerships with courts, federally qualified health clinics, and other health care providers to increase mental health and substance abuse awareness in communities. STOP also welcomes referrals or consults from primary care physicians. Through intensive case management services, STOP has complemented the overall goal of reducing substance use and abuse by creating positive, hopeful supports, including safe housing and opportunities for secure employment.

“The Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is so proud to be a part of this program,” said Linda McCorkle, Director of Treatment and Recovery Services, and added, “We consider this to be one of our premier low cost, high impact programs that is reaching those in need of substance use services in five counties that might otherwise not have been able to be served.”

Compelling statistics underscore the evidence of STOP’s success: a 91% decrease in substance use / abuse; a 94% increase in mental health access; a 94% increase in housing placement; and a 97% increase in family / social functioning. The success in Campbell, Morgan, Roane, and Scott counties has led to the recent expansion of services into Anderson County.

One client of STOP services candidly reflected, “If it hadn’t been for STOP, I’m afraid to imagine where I’d be,” while another observed, “I look forward to my weekly meeting; it’s a real high point for me each week and keeps me hopeful and encouraged.” Scott Payne, Recovery Specialist in Anderson County, said, “STOP provides a non-judgmental, supportive environment that allows individuals with co-occurring disorders to gain confidence in their abilities to cope with life’s challenges without the use of substances and to rediscover their connection to hope and a belief in a brighter tomorrow.”

In the Anderson County location of 240 W. Tyrone Road in Oak Ridge, the walk-in clinic hours are from 9 to 11 a.m. weekdays. STOP services, in combination with same day accessibility, is a win-win for client care and is a perfect formula for a lasting positive impact and a healthier community.

At the Tennessee Association of Mental Health Organizations’ annual conference in 2014, STOP was presented with the Program of Excellence Award. This is a fitting celebration of STOP’s innovative impact in effectively responding to the substance abuse prevention and treatment needs of Appalachian residents.
Hope exists in the hills and valleys of East Tennessee and with programs like STOP, it shines brighter day by day. If you or someone you love would benefit from STOP services, please call us at 865-482-1076.
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Michael Yates is the Director of Development at Ridgeview Behavioral Health Services
Ridgeview is a private, not for profit community mental health center with locations in Anderson, Campbell, Morgan, Roane, and Scott counties.