Getting Heroin Addiction Treatment Can Be Hard

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An average of nearly 500 calls a day rang into Cincinnati’s Center for Addiction Treatment (CAT) in September. The website caught 1,100 visits a day. The problem is that immediate treatment is hard to get, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. “We are not close to treatment-on-demand ability,” said Sandi Kuehn, the center’s CEO. Offering services when people want them would put Cincinnati among the national leaders in the battle against heroin addiction. Experts cannot name a city that has all forms of treatment on demand. Addiction doctors say that the Cincinnati region does not have enough treatment facilities for everyone who needs the help. Many who want treatment do not know how to get what is available, and many who are addicted do not have the means, including transportation or a phone, to find treatment.

Treatment on demand for heroin addiction usually means quickly providing medication to stop a patient’s cravings and help stabilize them, then finding long-term treatment that includes counseling. Addiction experts say it’s important to give people treatment when they ask for it because people may want treatment one minute, but succumb to heroin the next. Not having treatment on demand is “like denying treatment to a person with advanced heart disease,” said Linda Richter of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. Addiction treatment is becoming more available in the Cincinnati area, with outpatient clinics and programs “popping up all the time,” said Nan Franks, CEO of the Addiction Services Council, a Greater Cincinnati nonprofit. While the clinics have shorter wait times than inpatient treatment, clinic treatment usually requires an appointment. The clinics mostly offer FDA-approved medications buprenorphine and injectable naltrexone for opioid addiction. They match medication with counseling.

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