- Rick McCrabb Staff Writer
Middletown is about to get more ammunition in its fight against the heroin epidemic that has drained the city’s public safety departments that responded to 532 overdoses, 74 of them fatal, last year.
Choices, a heroin and opioid treatment program, will open early next month at 4421 Roosevelt Blvd., Suite A, said Robert Haley, regional director who will be based in Middletown. He said Choices (Cognitive Healthcare Opportunities In Constructive Environmental Settings) has served the addicted community for 30 years.
“It’s not like, ‘There’s a heroin epidemic, let’s jump on the bandwagon,’” he said of his business. “This is what we do.”
When Middletown opens, it will give Choices eight Ohio locations, and the ninth is expected to open in Springfield this summer, Haley said.
Choices is a medication-assisted treatment program that serves adults who have an opiate dependence, Haley said. The center will offer medication assisted treatment, individual therapy, case management services, intensive outpatient, substance abuse crisis intervention and drug testing. The building will have security cameras and those seeking treatment won’t be allowed to “hang out” at the strip mall.
“We know what to expect,” he said with a laugh. “We’re not dealing with the Boy Scouts in any way.”
Those who seek treatment there will be given a mental and chemical dependency assessment, be diagnosed by the doctor on staff and be required to participate in group activity, and periodically meet with a case manager and counselor. He said the program is coverage by Medicad.
He said the success of the program can be measured by how the treatment “reduces certain behaviors” in addicts. He has heard people say drug addicts are “terrible parents,” but he believes if drugs were removed, their actions would improve.
The Choices program, he said, will “make a positive impact in the community” by getting people off drugs and back into the workplace. He said most of the crime being committed in the city can be traced to drugs.
“They do not have drug problem, they have a money problem,” he said.
Haley said he understands the Middletown area has “a drastic, drastic” dependence on opioids. He applauded the efforts of other treatment centers, but added: “More support is needed at this time.”
Being addicted to drugs is “a health crisis,” Haley said, and should be viewed similar to other diseases.
“Have we ever made diabetes go away, no,” he said. “Because it’s a health concern. We look at (heroin addiction) as a war as opposed to a heath issue. It’s a health issue we should be willing to address. Let’s cut the head off the snake because if we don’t the serpent still will be trolling through the community and all aspects of our society.”
He said every three months, the staff at Choices will meet with city leaders to discuss any concerns and review progress.