The Edmond Sun

May 21, 2009

State spends $56 million for 2008 treatment

Mark Schlachtenhaufen

EDMOND — If you have a family member or a friend needing treatment for drug addiction you may be wondering what a state-operated facility is like.

Anyone thinking the 62-bed Norman Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center resembles an "institution" is mistaken, said Wynema Ra, executive director of the largest publicly operated facility in the state.

"It's not like being in an institution," Ra said.

Staff members have worked to give the center a welcoming environment, Ra said.



The Need for Treatment

Pam McKeown, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, said during fiscal year 2008 the agency spent $56.2 million on substance abuse treatment; federally funded treatment cost about $18 million.

McKeown said $6.4 million was spent on substance abuse prevention programs during the same year. Of this, $2.5 million were state appropriations and $3.86 million were federal prevention funds.

These numbers don't include gambling treatment, which runs less than $200,000, or specialty programs with the Department of Corrections. Primarily, these numbers reflect public treatment costs, and come directly from the agency's federal block grant proposal, McKeown said.



Getting Help

Individuals arriving at the Norman center go to the reception area, which includes a fish tank and a Cap Code design theme. While they wait for service, they are provided with snacks and a drink.

Someone will come and ask them some initial questions including what substance they were using, for how long, if they have any legal issues and their current housing status.

A nurse will review the information and then discuss options with the prospective client.

If admitted, the center's rules are presented to the client and family members. They include items clients may keep while there for treatment, visitation policy and phone call policy. New clients then get to spend some time with family.

After admission paperwork is completed, a "buddy" is assigned, who introduces them to staff members during a tour of the center. Following the tour, the client is shown to their bed.

The largest living quarters at the center have five beds. Others have four, some three, some two and some are single bedrooms for certain cases.

Still on the first day, a new client would go to an evening lecture, participate in activities, play games or watch a movie. Later they would go to their first 12-step program meeting with Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous or Double Trouble, which is for persons with both substance issues and mental health issues.

Dave Mehta, the center's admissions coordinator, said new clients usually are screened on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. A reduction in the amount of paperwork has helped speed up the admission process, Mehta said.

If there is a need for same-day service, a client can come on a walk-in basis, Ra said. For those who cannot afford treatment, free beds are available. The number of free beds varies from facility to facility. Otherwise, cost is based on what the client can afford, Ra said.

Pat Nichols, founder of the Edmond chapter of Parents Helping Parents, said treatment programs in the private sector can cost $30,000-$40,000.

Nichols said every treatment program works even if a child continues to use.

"The reason it does is the child now has the tools they need and they know they can fall back on them and the parents can be in position to support recovery. That's the key," Nichols said.

Mehta said on average the center answers 60-100 calls a day. Mehta said stays in the center depend on the client's condition and the treatment programs. On average, most last 30-45 days.



Client Base

According to information provided by the facility, the Norman center provides an adult population treatment for substance dependence and co-occurring disorders, opiate dependence and individuals with chronic health issues or disabilities.

The priority population includes homeless individuals, IV users, pregnant women, women with dependent children and those with HIV/AIDS.

In fiscal year 2008, the center admitted 682 clients to the residential treatment program. Of that number, nearly 50 percent were diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder including major depression, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia and other mood and/or thought disorders.

With this specialized population, which often includes clients whose only motivation may be a court referral, the center has an average completion rate of nearly 70 percent.

Clinical services, case management services and non-acute medical services work closely with community-based outpatient providers, Ra said. When the client leaves the center, follow-up calls are made 60 days out, 90 days out and one year out, she said.



marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 108