Delaware County Sheriff Ray Dudley has watched the meth problem grow here over the past few years and contends a local residential rehabilitation center devoted to meth users would help addicts cope with everyday life.
“One of the things I’ve heard from people is that they’ll work for a little bit and then they’ll go use drugs,” he said. “The problem is they just work for their addiction; they’re not working for anything else.”
Dudley believes addicts need intervention as soon as they leave jail. “We’re going to help them cut that drug addiction that they have. During this time we need to start trying to get them an education, get them with a job skill trade,” he said.
Dudley said his vision would include an educational program that family and friends also can attend so that they can be informed about the issue in case their loved one relapses.
There are two rehab centers like what he describes in Hamilton County, one in Madison County, and four in Allen County. Although there are no rehab centers in Delaware County, there are behavioral health specialists that offer different kinds of treatment to addicts.
Amanda Whitten is a clinical supervisor for Delaware County Adult and Addictions Services at Meridian Health Services.
“Nobody just wakes up one morning and says, ‘I want meth to run my life, or I want heroin to make all my decisions,’” said Whitten. “We know that it’s been a process to get them where they are today.”
Meridian Health Services has several programs addressing addiction,including one-on-one therapy, group therapy ranging from individuals who are in early recovery to intensive outpatient treatment (IOT), and a third group called relapse prevention that is supposed to help addicts transition out of the group setting. There also is one program that is specific to opiate dependence.
“Very few people start out using meth. Meth is considered very
intense. Even within the using community there’s a lot of stigma against meth: It’s dirty, that it’s not safe, that it’s just not a good avenue to go down,” Whitten said.
Dudley said a rehab center would give addicts a chance to recover before returning to the same environment they were using in.
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Seth Beiswenger discovers how law enforcement can not fix this meth problem alone.
“You’ve taken them from the gutter and you’ve given them a purpose to live,” Dudley said. “It’s not just their life; its’s their parents, their kids, brothers and sisters, family and friends we’re saving. This addiction doesn’t just affect the person on the drug, it affects everybody on it.”
Muncie has a range of peer support programs for drug users, including NA, Celebrate Recovery and Dual Recovery Anonymous. There is no therapist or social worker at those meetings, however. Someone who also is an addict runs them.
Whitten said peer support groups are going to change how Delaware County and other communities deal with addiction.
“I think there is discussion in the community that you can recover from just about anything, unless it’s meth … just trying to communicate out there that that’s not true … there definitely is hope,” Whitten said.
Whitten said it is important to learn to be sober where you are, and outpatient facilities can help addicts with that process of transitioning back into everyday life.
“Hypothetically, should a residential center ever open up, that would be great. If we could wave a wand and have one, I certainly would do it. But regardless of how long someone spends in a residential program … eventually you have to go back out into the real world,” said Whitten. “If you don’t have the option of residential, then you’re really just going to have to choose to dig your feet in and work on an outpatient level in your recovery, which has its own advantages and disadvantages, because that means that you are learning how to be sober where you’re at.”
There are several sober living environment facilities around Delaware County, including three in Fort Wayne, three in Indianapolis and one in Carmel. Sober living facilities use a 12-step method for treating addicts.
“This is my dream, this is my vision,” Dudley said. I think as a community, once we go out, keep talking about this, getting people involved in this process; I think that as a community we’re going to set a trend for not only Indiana but the nation.”
Amanda Whitten describes some of the services Meridian Health Services provides to its patients and what hope remains. Michael Kuhn reports.