By Jordyn Grzelewski
For some people whose loved ones have a substance-use disorder, where to turn if and when that individual is ready to seek help can be a source of worry.
At forums on the opioid epidemic hosted by local media last year as part of the Your Voice Ohio state media collaboration, some community members expressed concern about the availability of services that can provide help at any time of day.
There are no treatment centers that provide 24/7 intake, but one service in Trumbull County provides assessments 24/7. In Mahoning County, no 24/7 services are in place, but mental health and recovery officials hope a program that will open soon will help address that issue.
“That’s a challenge, because that is something we’re working on, but we don’t have 24/7 access right now,” said Brenda Heidinger, associate director of the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery board. “We have providers like Meridian HealthCare that have walk-in assessments during the day, but after hours is really tough because we don’t have anyplace that’s open 24/7.”
A new detox center, which will be operated by Neil Kennedy Recovery Center and located at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital, however, will change that. Heidinger said she expects the center, which will have 14 detox beds, will open in the next month or two and will help alleviate that issue because the center will have access to an emergency room.
“When people say access is a problem, they mean access at the moment is a problem,” she said. “We are trying to alleviate that by putting some programs in place that will help people access outside of business hours.”
As for what someone should do to receive help, it depends on what type of help they need and the time of day. Providers such as Meridian and Neil Kennedy provide assessments during regular business hours.
In an emergency, such as a psychiatric break, Heidinger said individuals should seek help at an emergency room. Another resource in the Valley is the 211 hotline, through which callers can receive information about a variety of options.
Outside of regular business hours, until the county has some capacity for 24/7 access to care, Heidinger encouraged loved ones to wait with the individual in need of help.
“If a person has come to you and they are ready to go to treatment, if you can, stay and talk them through it until the next morning,” she said. “Not everyone requires a detox level of care, so the first step is always an assessment. If you can get the person into an assessment the next day, then a professional can help determine what the next step is and where that person needs to go for services.”
In Trumbull County, Coleman Access Center, which can be reached at 330-392-1100, can assess individuals at any time of day.
April Caraway, executive director of the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board, said the service receives a lot of use. From July 2017 through the end of March, Coleman provided 1,908 pre-screenings, according to information provided by the mental health and recovery board.
The service allows patients to get an assessment at a hospital. Coleman generally will then help coordinate treatment options, Caraway said.
“They know who’s got an open bed,” she said, and they have sometimes been able to get people into treatment right away.
If it’s during nonbusiness hours, the individual might wait in the ER until they can get into a treatment center, or be sent home until they can get into treatment, Caraway said.
She said being able to respond to people’s needs 24/7 is “critical.”
“People are ready for help when they’re ready, and it’s not necessarily going to be Monday through Friday, 9 to 5,” she said. “So we’re trying to get people the help they need, whenever they’re ready to get it.”