NELSONVILLE — Getting help for addiction is not an easy task, but an event held Friday at Rocky Boots was designed to help make it an easier hurdle.
The event was hosted by the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office and the city of Nelsonville, in coordination with Health Recovery Services, and was aimed at helping residents facing any kind of addiction, not just drug addiction, get the treatment they need.
From 10-11:30 a.m. at the Rocky Brands Community Hall, Becky Filar, director of community justice with the prosecutor’s office; Scott Frank, Nelsonville interim city manager; and a representative of HRS were available to take questions, connect citizens with resources and offer a ray of hope.
For Frank, it was a personal matter to hold the event.
“For me, recovery is very near and dear to my heart,” he said. “I have a few years under my belt as well. Without recovery, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today.”
He noted that the cycle of addiction can make it hard to see a solution.
“What I really appreciate about outreach programs like this is we’re able to show folks that there is a solution, in fact, there’s multiple solutions,” he said. “For me, I enjoy sharing my story with others and talking about how I got to where I am and how much better my life is being sober.”
Frank shared that he used be addicted to alcohol, but had his last drink Jan. 27, 2018, having been sober since.
“Just being here and holding a position of power and being relatable to people, that’s a huge way for people to reduce that stigma just to walk through that door,” Filar said.
Filar explained that Prosecutor Keller Blackburn created his Vivitrol Program to help people get back on the right track following addiction. The program is not just for those involved in the court system — anyone is welcome to join the program.
“Our goal is to be able to offer assistance to get folks who may have struggles of any type of addiction to immediately link them with resources and assistance,” Filar said. “Having this here in Nelsonville — we had some folks who had warrants taken care of, they may be in need of drug treatment assistant, and we’re now offering that kind of in the same week that they may be getting their life back on track.”
She explained that the process starts with a conversation, to learn about what specific struggles or issues for which the individual is seeking help. That helps Filar or others know what steps or treatment options they’ve taken in the past, which may not be a good route to go down again. Through the program, individuals are then helped with setting up initial appointments to be assessed, receive counseling and receive medical treatment or procedures.
“So we try to get everything scheduled at one time, and then from there we make sure we have continued follow up with them,” Filar explained. “For example, today we’re working directly with Health Recovery Services, and they’re here to be able to immediately schedule and just try to fast-track that assistance and treatment.”
The services are not free, but assessed on a case-by-case basis.
“We just work with them based on what insurance or funding options we can offer,” she said. “The folks that were just in here didn’t have insurance, but we were able to set up appointments for them.”
Frank noted that finding a solution, or being given knowledge that a solution exists, can help exponentially.
“Basically, I’m no different than any other addict or alcoholic,” he said. “There are so many different addictions out there, and knowing that I’m not alone and there is a solution changed my life.”
Filar noted that the biggest barrier for addiction treatment in Nelsonville and most of Athens County is transportation. Health Recovery Services does offer transportation, but that service has been suspended while social distancing guidelines are in place across the state. Other transportation methods also exist, such as HAPCAP’s public transit lines and taxi services. Medicaid additionally offers transportation services.
She also noted that Prosecutor Blackburn has foregone the option of a drug court as his office sees more individuals involved with the drug issues than are involved with court proceedings.
“When Keller envisioned helping the community, he truly sought an option that allowed a community initiative,” she said. “So if you are just a person off the street who has no tie to any criminal justice system, you can still come in and get treatment. We’re still going to help you, we’re still going to follow up with you and there are no strings attached to the criminal justice system. We’re just there as a support group for that individual.”
Filar noted there is also a parental support group offered through the Prosecutor’s Office.