Op-Ed

Hope Center’s 3-step strategy works to counter opioid misuse

Last week, two studies on substance abuse were released. One was the Kentucky Office of Drug Control policies assessment of overdose deaths in Kentucky, which showed a record 1,565 deaths.

Those statistics are alarming and disheartening. But at the same time, a study was released that can provide a blueprint for how to combat this epidemic and win. Opioid misuse dropped 90 percent for female clients and 94 percent for male clients who participated in recovery programs at the Hope Center.

The findings were part of the 2018 Recovery Center Outcome Study, which is conducted by the University of Kentucky Center on Drug and Alcohol Research. Its Behavioral Health Outcome Studies team surveyed clients as they entered recovery programs in fiscal year 2016 and completed a 12-month follow-up survey in fiscal year 2017. The findings are part of an annual independent study of 15 of the Recovery Kentucky centers.

The study also showed the success of the Hope Center programs for resolving issues of depression, anxiety and homelessness, which can be contributing factors to substance-use disorders.

There are three important factors for the success of the Hope Center and the other Recovery Kentucky programs.

First, the Hope Center has a long-term residential program. Clients typically spend at least six months with us, giving them time to deal with multiple, inter-connected problems that have resulted in their addiction. They build a solid foundation for recovery and address other issues they may face, such as mental illness or a history of domestic abuse.

Second, we have professional staff members who oversee the program, many of whom overcame their own substance abuse issues. They understand the problems and provide the tools needed for recovery.

Third, we rely on peer mentors, clients who have completed the program and stay through a transition period helping those who have come after them — an effective and cost-efficient way to deliver recovery services in a meaningful way that emphasizes both personal responsibility and mutual accountability as well as providing hope that a drug-free life is possible.

Here is a summary of how the Hope Center’s recovery programs for men and women improved clients’ lives 12 months after entering the programs:

▪ 64 percent of men misused opioids at intake vs. 4 percent at follow-up. For women, those numbers dropped from 74 percent to 7 percent.

▪ 51 percent of men met the study’s criteria for depression at intake vs. 5 percent at follow-up. For the women, those numbers dropped from 64 percent to 0 percent;

▪ 65 percent of men had anxiety at intake vs. 0 percent at follow-up. For the women, those numbers dropped from 82 percent to 9 percent.

▪ 24 percent of men were homeless at intake vs. 3 percent at follow-up. For the women, those numbers dropped from 36 percent to 7 percent.

▪ 43 percent of men had trouble meeting basic needs at intake vs. 16 percent at follow-up. For the women, those numbers dropped from 39 percent to 6 percent.

▪ 22 percent of men had attended a mutual help recovery meeting in the past 30 days at intake vs. 81 percent at follow-up. For the women, those numbers increased from 46 percent to 91 percent.

The results demonstrate that the Hope Center’s holistic and multi-pronged approach helps people become part of a healthy community and gives them the tools and resources they need in the future — and to prevent them from becoming a statistic on the overdose death report.

Cecil Dunn is executive director of the Hope Center in Lexington.

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