Where to find help in the Huntington area 

RECOVERY POINT 304-523-4673....addiction treatment center

RIVER PARK 304-526-9111....mental health hospital

NEWNESS OF LIFE 304-972-6601....sober living house

PRESTERA CENTER - 877-3999-7776.....addiction treatment center

HUNTINGTON COMPREHENSIVE TREATMENT CENTER 888-602-0649....methadone and suboxone

LIFEHOUSE ADDICTION RECOVERY 304-908-4049....sober living house

SALT OF THE WORLD MINISTRIES 304-521-3226 Word of Faith based recovery program

HUNTINGTON CITY MISSION ….Transformers program....addiction services 304-523-0293

HELP FOR WV - 24 call or chatline 1-844-HELP4WV or www.help4wv.com

A NEW THING....sober living houses....Rob W 304-593-6900 www.anewthingwv.org

HUNTINGTON QRT 304-526-8541  A variety of addiction services

 

PROACT- extensive addiction services 304-696-8700

 

Dual Diagnosis 

The argument of is addiction a disease or a choice often comes up on my page. There is a condition that clouds the argument. It is accepted in the psychiatric field that there can be underlying mental illness disorders that can trigger or amplify addiction. This is called Dual Diagnosis. 

At the mental health hospital I work at, we see many cases of this. In order for the drug addiction treatment to be effective, the mental health condition has to be treated as well. 

Often addicts suffer from anxiety, depression. PTSD, bi-polar, schizophrenia, or a borderline personality disorder. These disorders can trigger addiction. The patient may also be self-medicating by taking drugs. The addict may be suffering from stress caused from the mental illness problems that cause them to turn to drugs to deal with it. 

This is not to say that all addicts are mentally ill, but it does explain why some addicts actually do not have as much of a choice as others to use and their use is driven by some sort of illness that triggers their addiction. 

Dual diagnosis can be harder to detect because the symptoms of some mental illnesses and addiction are the same. Dual diagnosis can also explain why a person relapses from rehabilitation. The relapse often happens because the addiction is treated but the underlying mental illness is not. Once the person gets out of rehab, the mental illness disorders arise and again triggers the addiction. In the case of dual diagnosis, the person has a better chance of staying clean if both conditions are treated through therapy, counseling, and perhaps medicine.

Mental Hygienes 

A mental hygiene can be used to ensure someone gets treatment for their addiction.  In West Virginia, the mental hygiene will have the person committed into a mental health hospital for evaluation and treatment. 

It must be proven that the person is either a threat to themselves or others.  If a person has overdosed multiple times or shows examples of extreme behavior, they can be taken to a mental hospital. 

It is not always easy to file a hygiene on someone.  A person can be filed on if it is proven that they are suicidal or have made threats that they will kill themselves. 

It is harder to prove that their drug use is detrimental to their well-being.  Several years ago I filed on someone who overdosed on Soma.  They were in the emergency room at St. Mary's in Huntington.  The request was denied.  A few weeks later they overdosed two days in a row.  Their behavior exhibited a pattern of behavior that indicated they were a threat to themselves.  They were placed in a mental health hospital. 

In Huntington, a mental hygiene can be filed at the circuit court, a hospital, or through Prestera's.  If the hygiene is approved the sheriff's department will pick them up.  If the person is at a hospital or mental hospital, the hospital can file.  The person will be placed in the psych ward at St. Mary's, Bateman Hospital - a state mental hospital, or River Park Hospital. 

The patient will be held until the doctor releases him. If the person is held for thirty days they will have to appear in front of a judge again.  They will receive a new hearing every thirty days. 

Once a person detoxes in a mental health facility, the hospital will often try to convince the patient to receive further treatment at a rehab facility such as Recovery Point or Prestera. 

If a person is in bad enough condition to be admitted into a hospital, it is hoped that once they detox and come to their senses, that they can be convinced to seek more treatment and willfully enter at least a 28 day program. 

A mental hygiene is often a last ditch effort made to force a loved one to get treatment for an addiction that will kill them.  There will have to be enough evidence that the person will hurt themselves or others if there is not a legal intervention. 

 

Vivitrol is Showing Positive Results 

There are two addiction issues that are often discussed on threads on my site that run hand in hand.  One is if jail is enough of a detox for addicts and another is if the relatively new opiate blocker Vivitrol is effective long-term. 

In an article written on November 27, 2017 https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2017/11/27/addictions-myths-busted-national-institute-drug-abuse-expert-local-state-experts-bust-addiction-myth/880167001/  

An expert Betty Tai, director of the Center for Clinical Trials Network for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, wrote: "With just detox, and not providing additional treatment, the relapse is almost instantaneous," Tai said. 

Only about 5 percent to 10 percent of people who detox will be able to stay drug-free with just detox, said Theresa Winhusen, professor and director of the Addiction Sciences Division within the UC College of Medicine psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience department.  

But detox is necessary for one of the FDA-approved medications for opioid addiction. Tai noted that research shows people who detox in a jail can remain free of opioid-seeking behavior if they follow incarceration with injectable naltrexone, known commonly as Vivitrol, and counseling. The non-narcotic blocks the effects of opioids." 

A friend of mine recently was locked up for a year.  They were drug free for that time and was interested in remaining clean.  When the person returned to their home, they gradually began using.  If the person would have received Vivitrol, they may have remained clean. 

The hospital I work at has made Vivitrol available.  They do not use Suboxone or Methadone. 

Vivitrol is a form of Naltrexone in a 28-day extended-release method that blocks the effect of heroin.  Test results released the last two weeks reveal Vivitrol is as effective as suboxone. 

 According to  https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/long-awaited-study-finds-monthly-vivitrol-as-effective-as-daily-pill-for-opioid-addiction 19, 2017 1:19 PM EST 

"The largest head-to-head study to date between two leading drugs to treat opioid addiction has found them roughly equivalent — an outcome that could dramatically change prescribing habits and boost the fortunes of the newer drug, Vivitrol. 

The study, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, found that a monthly shot of naltrexone (sold as Vivitrol) is as effective as its main competitor, the daily pill of buprenorphine and naloxone (sold as Suboxone). Researchers found that about half of people with opioid addiction who took either drug remained free from relapse six months later. 

Previously, there’s been a “widespread belief” that patients “don’t do as well on naltrexone as they do on buprenorphine,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of NIDA. “We’re hopeful this changes the prejudice.” 

 

Living in a heroin epidemic can lead to all kinds of talk about addiction and the answers to it – with a lot of it false. 

But on Monday, a national addiction expert joined some local and state experts at the University of Cincinnati's College of Medicine and met with The Enquirer to bust some common addiction myths. 

Betty Tai, Ph.D., director of the Center for Clinical Trials Network, National Institute on Drug ...more 

The Enquirer/Liz Dufour 

Here are the myths, along with the truth: 

Myth 1. Addiction is not a disease. 

Truth: "Addiction is a disease," said Betty Tai, director of the Center for Clinical Trials Network for the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "It is a brain disease, and you've got to treat it with a disease model." 

Like diseases of hypertension or diabetes, Tai said, there are best practices with which to treat addiction: "You give the patient what the patient is short on in his body or brain," she said, "so that the patient can keep a normal life ... keep a quality of life." 

She said you can manage the disease with treatment, just as you can manage other diseases. 

Myth 2. If someone addicted to heroin wants to stop using, she should just detox. 

Truth: "With just detox, and not providing additional treatment, the relapse is almost instantaneous," Tai said. 

Only about 5 percent to 10 percent of people who detox will be able to stay drug-free with just detox, said Theresa Winhusen, professor and director of the Addiction Sciences Division within the UC College of Medicine psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience department.  

But detox is necessary for one of the FDA-approved medications for opioid addiction. Tai noted that research shows people who detox in a jail can remain free of opioid-seeking behavior if they follow incarceration with injectable naltrexone, known commonly as Vivitrol, and counseling. The non-narcotic blocks the effects of opioids." 

 

Mental Illness and Addiction Are Treatable 

Mental illness is treatable. Mental illness is evident all over Huntington. There is help available. With suicides on the rise and more violent crimes, we must find a way to treat more cases of mental illness. Mental illness is also at the root of the drug epidemic. Not only is the extended use of ice and meth causing more mental illness, but many people use illegal drugs to self-medicate their mental illnesses. 

I work in a mental health hospital and I see positive results of treating mental illness every day. Communication plays a big part in calming down a person who becomes violent. Our local law enforcement agencies could have more success in dealing with persons if they received more training in dealing with those suffering from mental issues. I talk down people who are scared and confused a few times a day. 

The key to de-escalating my patients is in talking, listening, showing empathy, waiting people out by being patient and offering help. It helps to ask open-ended questions to ask what you can do to make the situation better. Violent situations do not have to have violent endings. 

Do not argue with delusions but keep in mind that it is better to have someone with you when confronting someone who is having problems. Someone on meth or dealing with strong emotional issues can be very strong and dangerous. 

A person with mental illness can be hearing voices or be ultra-paranoid and not make good decisions. The voices may be telling them to harm themselves or others. Meth users may hallucinate after being awake and on meth for days. They may think you are a demon and hurt you because they think they are fighting a demon not a person. 

Depression is a serious issue and the culprit behind the increase in suicides. The sad thing is that depression is treatable. There is help available in Huntington for all mental illnesses. Do not wait until it is too late. A person may just be hours away from harming themselves or others. Prestera, St. Mary's Medical Center, Bateman Hospital or River Park Hospital can help. River Park can be reached at 304 526 9111. 

There are people at these places that can inform you on how to get help for yourself or a loved one. Sometimes it may be necessary to get a mental hygiene in order to get someone help. The institutions can help with these or they can be obtained at the courthouse. It must be proven that the person is a threat to themselves or others. 

There is help available for those who have mental illnesses. It is sad when suicides or violent crimes occur because the situation could have been prevented by getting a person back on their medication or getting them to receive counseling or therapy. 

A Huntington where people receive the treatment they need will be a safer Huntington for all.

The Danger of Relapsing  

In the beginning of the epidemic, my intentions were to raise awareness of what was going on in our city. Now, that we are all painfully aware of the devastation of the epidemic, I want to discuss different issues centering around recovery. Some of the things I mention may be common knowledge to most addicts but I work with addicts and I feel that they need to be reminded of some basics. 

We are seeing many success stories; while this is wonderful news, it comes with a warning. Relapses are deadly. Heroin never lets go. Being a part time addict is dangerous. It's like playing Russian roulette with more than one bullet. 

An addict who has not done drugs in a long time has a lower tolerance then when they were using regularly. They try to do the same amount as they used to do and overdose. Their bodies are very vulnerable after they go through recovery. 

We have had several people leave the hospital I work in clean and die days later. One guy was in for a month and overdosed on his way home only to return that evening with another mental hygiene signed on him. 

A recovering addict who is an emerging leader in the Recovery field spoke a few weeks ago that after a long time clean he recently wanted to use so bad that he stayed in his room all day and cried. He couldn't come out of his room because the urge to use was suddenly overwhelming. He called his support system and the urge eventually passed. But the point is that the urge will always be there. An addict must realize that slipping may mean dying. It's not like being on a diet and cheating and eating a Twinkie. Relapses kill. Cheating with heroin can mean death. 

Recovery is real, but heroin hates to be scorned and awaits it's revenge. It is important that addicts in Recovery keep that in mind

Support Groups 

Support groups like Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous are extremely important for anyone in Recovery. Support groups provide important information how to quit, inspiration, and are there to help pull you back into sobriety if an addict is thinking of relapsing. Hearing success stories and just talking about sobriety is a great way to stay on the right track. 

Sometimes people think that meetings are boring and will only go to them to get papers signed if they are forced by courts to go. Recovery can be a team sport if you surround yourself with the right supportive team along the way. 

Like other skills and interests, the more you talk about your sobriety and be vested in it, the better you will be at being sober. There are ways to avoid the pitfalls and temptations of relapse. Someone who has beaten addiction through recovery can help you and inspire you. 

I came across this analogy online and think it is very appropriate in regards to the importance of those in Recovery attending support groups. 

"AN ADDICT FELL IN A HOLE and couldn't get out. A businessman went by and the addict called out for help. The businessman threw him some money and told him to buy himself a ladder. But the addict could not buy a ladder in this hole he was in. A doctor walked by. The addict said, "Help! I can't get out!" The doctor gave him some drugs and said, "Take this. It will relieve the pain." The addict said thanks, but when the pills ran out, he was still in the hole. A well-known psychiatrist rode by and heard the addict's cries for help. He stopped and asked, " How did you get there? Were you born there? Did your parents put you there? Tell me about yourself, it will alleviate your sense of loneliness." So the addict talked with him for an hour, then the psychiatrist had to leave, but he said he'd be back next week. The addict thanked him, but he was still in the hole. A priest came by. The addict called for help. The priest gave him a Bible and said, "I'll say a prayer for you." He got down on his knees and prayed for the addict, then he left. The addict was very grateful, he read the Bible, but he was still stuck in the hole. A recovering addict happened to be passing by. The addict cried out, "Hey, help me. I'm stuck in this hole!" Right away the recovering addict jumped down in the hole with him. The addict said, "What are you doing? Now we're both stuck here!!" But the recovering addict said, "Calm down. It's okay. I've been here before. I know how to get out." -Author Unknown"

The New Ice Age 

The New Ice Age is bringing about the biggest change in Huntington's illegal drug activity since the shift from oxycontin to heroin a few years ago. Meth and Ice have always been big players in West Virginia but they are on their way to becoming Huntington's biggest problem and may soon replace Heroin as Huntington's problem child. 

Methamphetamine, or meth, is a powerful stimulant drug known for its euphoric effects and the energy it triggers in users. Crystal meth, or ice, as it’s commonly called, are the same drug as meth, but in a more potent, distilled form. 

In recent years, opiates were kings of the drug trade in Huntington and most urban areas. Meth and Ice were more popular in rural areas. It was referred to as a " trailer park drug." While heroin dominated Huntington and Charleston, all one had to do to witness the popularity of Meth or Ice was journey to Sissonville, Eastern Kentucky, or even Wayne. 

The significance of this transition from opiates to meth is very apparent with positive and negative affects. The main reason it is occurring is that users are being intimidated by the overdoses from opiates. There have been over 1,000 overdoses a year in Huntington the last three years from opiates. Usually the only overdoses from meth is when it is used with heroin or spiked with fentanyl, a very strong opiate. 

Also, as a person uses heroin for a period of time they use up all of their resources paying for heroin, so they switch to Meth or Ice. The reason for the switch is Meth and Ice are cheaper and the high last longer. 

With recent drug raids on heroin dealers, more pressure is put on the heroin pipeline from Detroit to Huntington. This can hurt the availability of Heroin in Huntington. A lot of Meth and Ice are from Huntington dealers selling to Huntington users. So those drugs are always available. Several new Ice Houses have opened in Huntington. 

Heroin users that are trying to get clean are getting help from suboxone. Several new grants are making it easier to get suboxone. Many users are getting suboxone and Vivitrol shots for free...and this is getting them off of Heroin and keeping them from getting sick. They use Ice and Meth to get a buzz because the opiate blockers do not have any affect on those drugs. 

One other negative aspect that we will not see as much with the transition from Heroin is the turf wars we seen over drug dealers fighting their competition. The comment Huntington officials said about last years spike in violence was that as long as you weren't involved in the drug trade that the chances were very high that you would not get shot. 

Meth and Ice makes their users more violent and angry. We will see more fights, stabbings, and assaults due to this. These violent activities may not always be directed toward those that deal with drugs. The violence may be directed toward family members, law enforcement, robbery victims and innocent bystanders. 

I have seen an increase of homeless ice and meth users. Downtown, 4 and a Half Alley, and the area around 6th Avenue Sheetz are full of teens to middle twenties adults roaming the area at night with backpacks. They spend every dime they get on drugs. They rarely sleep because they stay up for days at a time on this "super speed." When they do finally sleep they take over abandoned houses. 

Many of the drug users taking over abandoned houses are using Ice and Meth. An abandoned house on 1304 5th Avenue has become refuge for homeless users. The house has been boarded up by the city, but determined drug users find ways back into the building. Several illegal activities go on there including drug use, drug dealing, prostitution. Harboring stolen items, overdoses, and several incidents of violence and fighting. A fire has happened there recently as well. There are many abandoned houses and similar activities happening like this throughout Huntington. Wherever you find such a house, chances are high you have stumbled upon some ice or meth users. 

Meth and Ice are made with toxic materials like Liquid Plummer, charcoal lighter fluid, and battery acid. These materials have a very harmful affect on a human body after a period of time. They also cause psychosis. Psychosis also occurs when users stay up for days and do not eat right. Many users see hallucinations. It is dangerous when they act on these hallucinations. Some users have killed or hurt people thinking they are demons. 

Right now the priority in Huntington is the focus on stopping Heroin and the Detroit to Huntington pipeline. These are noble goals but attention must be proactive and focus on the incoming New Huntington Ice Age. The importance of awareness of meth and ice is because the dealers are different and the affect of the drugs are different. We will have to fight meth and Ice differently than we fight Heroin.