EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio (WKBN) – Columbiana County residents struggling with drug addiction will soon have a place to turn to for help that’s closer to home.
Officials in East Liverpool say the opiate problem is bad and getting worse, but those looking to quit with the help of methadone and Suboxone have to drive 45 minutes to Youngstown.
A new clinic, which will be an expansion of the current Family Recovery Center, is opening up on Jackson Street downtown.
“If we had opened our doors a year and a half ago, I think it would have opened very quietly, without any fanfare,” said Executive Director Eloise Traina.
In that time, the opiate epidemic has gotten worse. Just in the last week, there were two more overdoses. Last month, another overdose brought East Liverpool international attention.
“The photograph that was infamous around the world, that came out of East Liverpool. Really opened the eyes of the community that heroin addiction is way beyond just somebody else’s problem,” Traina said. “It’s not just anyone who’s sleeping on the street. It’s in so many of our lives and so many of our homes, that individuals are needing this kind of treatment going forward.”
Mike Garcar with CommQuest services agrees that the opiate epidemic has “exploded” over the past year.
CommQuest services will be providing the staff and the oversight for this clinic, like the one they have in Canton.
Garcar says drug users who undergo Medication Assisted Recovery (MAR) are four times more likely to stay sober. The clinic will dispense Buprenorphine, methadone, Vivitrol and Narcan.
“Those medications essentially stop the withdrawal and help the addict feel normal,” Garcar said.
Garcar and Traina say there are some changes that have to be made to the Family Recovery Center so it complies with state laws that govern methadone clinics.
“That door that divides them is basically where we dispense all the medication. We have a large safe that it’s all protected by,” Garcar said.
While there can be a stigma around methadone clinics, East Liverpool Safety Service Director Brian Allen says it’s just what his city needs.
“It’s great to have them. Can’t be soon enough.”
He says this is one piece of the puzzle to stopping drug addiction, though they’re still asking the state to help fund more police officers and D.A.R.E. programs in schools.
“As of right now, we’ll take any help we can get,” Allen said.
Family Recovery Center says it still needs final approvals for the methadone clinic. The plan is to have it up and running by early December.