New treatment center hopes to reduce wait list for heroin addicts

BUTLER COUNTY, OH (FOX19) - Fighting the heroin epidemic that's plaguing the Tri-State isn't easy. 

In Butler County, one group is doing all they can to get more beds for addicts so they can get the treatment they need.
Since 1984, Sojourner Recovery Services has worked to give addicts substance abuse treatment.  But it's only in the last few years that officials there say the demand for heroin treatment is taking over most of the beds they have.
On Monday, their newest treatment facility opened in Hamilton, bringing the total beds they have available for addicts seeking treatment to 82.
"We're heading in the right direction but, we're far from done," said Rose-Ann Christen who lost her son to a heroin overdose.
It's been a little more than a year since Christen's son died.
"We're just having so many deaths. They're on waiting lists.  But, they have no place to go," said Christen.
She knows the need for treatment facilities, and has worked to get more addicts into them. But, places where addicts can go are at capacity a lot of times, and tend to have lengthy waiting lists.
Tackling that waiting list issue is priority number one at Sojourner Recovery Services.
"We have, currently, a 6-month wait list to get into men's residential treatment. By opening this program, that'll cut that wait list in half," said Scott Gehring, President and CEO at Sojourner Recovery Systems.

The number 12 is not a big number, but it does double the number of beds at the facility for men seeking treatment.  It's a big help too, especially when nearly 90% of the people treated there are facing a heroin or opiate addiction.
"When you're talking to an IV heroin addict, every day counts.  Every day matters.  If you're on a wait list, for an extended period of time, you may not live to see treatment," said Gehring.
It took just six weeks to get the new facility up and running after previously serving as the group's administrative office building. 

The fast turnaround is key in fighting a problem that's growing faster and faster because by the end of this week, they'll be at capacity.

"The heroin addiction, the opiate epidemic, is a very aggressive disease.  We need to respond equally as aggressively," Gehring told FOX19.

Treatment programs at the facility are a case-by-case basis and funded through a combination of dollars from Medicaid, federal, state and local levels.
Gehring says the plan now is to scout other treatment locations in Middletown, Oxford and West Chester as possible sites to expand. 

In the next year, they plan to bring their bed total to 110 beds as the need continues to increase.

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