The Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress in Bartholomew County continues its work to establish a “hub” to help those battling addiction. The group held a town-hall style meeting Tuesday night at Community Church of Columbus.
Organizers describe a hub as a centralized location with dedicated staff and volunteers to help those wanting information on how to quit. The hub could also help addicts determine what resources are available to help them. Organizers, as well as a number of former addicts who attended, said that current services that are available locally are difficult to attain and navigate. The goal, they say, is to transition a walk-in or phone call to help within minutes.
Anna Hilycord, with Centerstone, says that one of the most important steps to successfully battle addiction is to reduce its stigma. She stresses that addiction is not a choice, instead calling it a “brain disease.” Hilycord argues that battles with addiction should be talked about among family and friends the same way a cancer diagnosis would be.
Hilycord also took aim at pharmaceutical companies. She says that many are to blame for false marketing, implying that opioids can be used by those suffering from chronic pain without the threat of addiction. Hilycord says that opioids “rewire the brain” after just days of use. She also cited studies that she says indicate that one in 12 people become addicted to opioids after the try them for the first time.
Rhonda Fischer, ASAP Program Manager, told the dozens in attendance that there is no single way to properly treat someone suffering from addiction. Instead, she stresses that there are “several paths to recovery” that the community can draw upon to help fight the opioid epidemic.
The presentation included a discussion about what is needed for the community to “own” a hub. Organizers and attendees agree that strides have been made recently, specifically in regards to education. However, they believed that additional education efforts could occur in schools, the workplace, with medical professionals, social media and via faith-based programs. Other assets needed for the hub include housing, in-patient treatment, out-patient treatment, a partnership with law enforcement and post-treatment support.
Fischer ended the evening by asking those in attendance, and the community as a whole, to think about what they can individually do to help fight the opioid epidemic.
The next major presentation on the local effort to battle the problem is scheduled to be March 8 during Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop’s State of the City Address.
For more on the efforts of the Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress in Bartholomew County, visit asapbc.org.