VA county seeks detox center amid heroin overdose deaths

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Greenfield, VA, United States (4E) – Franklin County’s Sheriff and Opioid Education and Awareness Task Force are seeking the establishment of a local detoxification center for heroin and opiate addicts.

“People are dropping dead from overdosing on heroin and opiates. This is more dramatic and deadly than addiction we’ve dealt with in the past,” Franklin County Sheriff and Task Force Co-Chair Christopher Donelan told New England Public Radio’s Jill Kaufman in an interview on May 31.

Donelan estimated that $550,000 will be needed to put up a detox unit in the county prison. He also called for $75,000 in funding to establish an opioid addiction program.

The sheriff recalled a detox unit for alcohol, cocaine and marijuana addicts operated at Franklin Medical Center in the late 90s and early 2000s before it was eliminated due to budget cuts. At the time, when he was still a probation officer, Donelan said the detox unit was hugely successful and a better alternative than incarceration of addicts.

Meanwhile, the Virginia Senate has approved $100,000 in funding for the task force, according to state Senator Stanley Rosenberg. The new funding adds to the $100,000 budget for the task force the state assembly approved previously.

The lack of a detox center in the county is hampering assistance and care to addicts who want to wean themselves from drugs. There were 12 confirmed or suspected opioid-related deaths and 50 cases of overdoses since December. One victim was a 34-year old woman who was supposed to leave for a residential drug treatment program in Pittsfield but was found dead due to heroin overdose.

Addiction patients are also having difficulty seeking treatment elsewhere as there are no available beds in nearby detox centers, according to outreach worker Michael Baldanz.

Department of Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett said she will propose the detox center recommendation of the task force to Gov. Deval Patrick. In the meantime, people seeking addiction treatment will have to look into alternative rehab programs.

One such example is the Start Fresh Program (SFP) that BioCorRx Inc. (BICX) provides to addiction centers. The SFP is a dual rehab approach as it combines the use of a naltrexone implant to help curb a person’s craving for alcohol or opioids and life coaching sessions.

The effect of naltrexone released to the body on schedule by the implant last for several months in most patients keeping them sober and focused on the life coaching sessions.

“Once they are done with the (implant) procedure, they enter the life coaching phase of the program which includes 15 or more sessions usually over a six-month period. In those sessions, the life coach helps the patient to develop tools that will enable them to recognize and deal with triggers that would normally cause them to use or drink. The coaching program is focused on moving forward and not looking back,” BioCorRx COO Brady Grainier explained in an earlier interview.

“These sessions can take place face to face or via Skype so that the person’s recovery fits within the framework of their own lives,” he added.

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