Overhaul proposed in treatment of area alcohol and drug addicts 

DAYTON — A two-year study of Montgomery County’s alcohol and drug addiction services recommends an overhaul of the system, making treatment more individualized and immediate.
“We’re trying to get our community as close to a treatment-on-demand system as possible,” said Andrea M. Hoff, a program coordinator for Montgomery County’s Office of Family and Children First. “Solutions have to be as unique as the individual coming in for treatment.”
County Commissioner Dan Foley and Jim Pancoast, president of Premier Health Partners, co-chaired the 150-member Montgomery County Alcohol & Drug Abuse Task Force. They will present recommendations to the county commission at 1:30 p.m. today and to the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board at its 5:30 p.m. meeting on Wednesday.
“As a community, we’re looking at how we can spend our dollars more effectively and improve our system,” Foley said. “We’re going to have to use existing dollars to make this work.”
More than 43,000 people ages 12 and older needed services for alcohol and drug abuse in Montgomery County in 2008. Of those, about 5,106, or 12 percent, received assessment in the public system, with just 3,055 making it to their first appointment. About 1,000 completed their treatment.
And, the county leads the state in the rate of prescription and illicit drug overdose deaths. “The impact of alcohol and other drug abuse and addition is felt across the entire landscape of Montgomery County,” the report said.
The task force calls for CrisisCare of Samaritan Behavioral Health Inc. — the entry to mental health and addiction services in the county — to schedule assessments 24 hours a day. Assessments should be within 24 business hours of referral, with follow-ups scheduled immediately.
“Typically, when people seek treatment they’re hitting a major life event because of their addiction, loss of a job, in trouble with the law. That’s the time they want to work on their addition. The closer we can provide services to that point, the greater chance we have of success,” Hoff said.
• The task force’s most urgent recommendation was development of a sophisticated electronic system for collecting and exchanging data to let agencies track where clients have received services. Foley added that the individual’s privacy would be protected.
• Currently, patients assessed for treatment in a hospital are re-assessed by CrisisCare before being admitted into a program. The task force recommends eliminating the second assessment.
• The study recommends the creation of a database of available beds in treatment facilities.
• Individuals who are detoxing often end up in a hospital emergency room, but don’t actually need medical attention. The task force recommends training nonmedical staff to safely assist a person who is detoxing.
• Length and intensity of treatment should be based on client need, not on state reimbursement rates. Foley said this type of system change would require waivers from the state or changes in law.