Seven Counties services, a behavioral and substance abuse treatment center has announced plans to tackle the heroin epidemic that has been troubling many families in the region. They will partner with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation to launch a model program that is going to be the first ever of its kind to be seen in the entire state.
The COR-12 program created in 2013 by Hazelden is going to be the basis of the program which will kick off with an outpatient treatment center. The project is already underway in Bullitt County and will offer a comprehensive opioid response service. The vice president of Seven Counties Services, Scott Heseltine, says that the program will be a major game changer in the fight against the epidemic which continues to take the lives of millions of people every year.
Heseltine said in a press conference that deaths that occurred after treatment were reduced to zero in the first year of the COR-12 program. This was when he was still working at Hazelden. There are some aspects that are going to change with the new program, though. For instance, even though they still advocate for abstinence-based treatment services, they also understand that it is not all that it takes to fight the addiction crisis. Because of this, they are going to use buprenorphine for the first time.
Because of the regulations put in place by the federal government, the program will have to limit the use of buprenorphine. There will be only 30 patients treated using this new medication during the entire first phase. The regulations require the doctors to only use the medicine to 100 patients in the second year.
Those who support the use of the new drug argue that the limits are not doing any good. There are advocacy groups that have gone public to ask the regulators to consider lifting such limits because they will hinder the fast growth of the program. They do not want to see people dying from addictions to opiates when they know that there is a medication that can be used to avoid this. President Obama has announced a new proposal to increase the limit to 200 patients. If approved, this might go into effect by the end of the year.
Responding to questions about the proposed rule, Heseltine said if the final rule comes out, it could allow for greater access to the services and so, save many lives which otherwise are in danger of being lost. Heseltine also said in a separate interview that buprenorphine is not all that the new program is about. In fact, it is just part of many other measures that they plan to undertake.
They hope to set up weekly opioid support group therapy as well as to partner with clinical managers as well as peer support specialists to deliver more comprehensive services. The organizers want to make sure that everything is done in a well-structured manner and that everyone who needs help gets it as fast as possible.