A Leon County program to treat substance abuse is going regional. DISC Village will soon be adding 6 new counties to its service area.
One of the more effective tools in the DISC Village substance abuse fighting toolkit is an injectable medication called Vivitrol. It has a solid track record of success in craving reduction for those struggling with opioid and alcohol addiction. Patrick Lane, who administers DISC Village’s Vivitrol program, said that success is also being seen among local clients.
“Between the jail program here in Leon County and we also have a great program that we started last year with the Apalachee Center and they’ve made referrals to us. And so in that time, we’ve served just over 90 patients and given out 300 injections in that timeframe.”
That’s just in Leon County. So now Lane said the program, with the aid of a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other support, will be moving into jails in 6 other North Florida counties.
“We’re having discussions and putting protocols in place. It’s going to be Franklin, Madison, Taylor, Jefferson, Wakulla and Liberty counties. And the focus there is really expanding our medicated-assisted treatment, which is Vivitrol, but it’s also Saboxone and some other medications. But we’re also wanting to expand our counseling services,” he explained.
Since half of the soon-to-be-added counties were hit by Hurricane Michael, Lane said these services are needed now more than ever, since catastrophe often triggers increased rates of substance abuse.
“They’d needed more services in the past and just not now. I just think it comes to a peak when you have a tragedy like that and it just not going to be built around medications. It’s about getting more services out there in general like counseling services. And also working with the partners in those communities to get feedback on what they need as well.”
Particularly because, as Lane pointed out, the big scourge for rural North Florida isn’t really opioids.
“Meth has taken over this regional area of the state. And that’s not to say we don’t have opioid issues here and a problem because we certainly do. But when you look at the big scheme, there’s always a new drug that comes in and take the place of something else. It’s unintended consequences. They did a good job of closing the pill mills and getting a lot of the opioids off the street. But now you have people switching out one addiction for another and meth is very cheap and easy to make and it’s really taken over our rural communities.”
Lane emphasized that makes the job of organizations like DISC Village even more of a challenge.
“Because right now there’s no medicated-assisted treatment for meth. There’s no Vivitrol for meth or Saboxone or anything like that. So we’re going to have to rely more on traditional counseling methods to address that. It has a foothold in Tallahassee, but really in the more rural counties it’s very predominant.”
And many of today’s meth users no longer have to face the danger of making this volatile and deadly substance themselves. A growing percentage of the drug is now coming in via interstate and even international supply lines.