The consequences of untreated substance abuse and addiction in the U.S. today are bleak. In 2013, an estimated 24.6 million Americans aged 12 or older were current illicit drug users, 21.6 million had a substance use disorder in the past year, and over 60 million were binge alcohol users according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Approximately 88,000 deaths were attributed to excessive alcohol use annually from 2006 to 2010, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and 40,393 people died of drug-induced causes in 2010. Abuse and addiction are going untreated.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that, as recently as 2013, an estimated 22.7 million individuals aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem. That represents 8.6 percent of the population aged 12 or older.
However, only 2.5 million people received treatment at a specialty facility. This means 20.2 million individuals may not have received the treatment they needed to address a problem with drugs or alcohol in 2013.
The Morton Center, a privately funded, non-profit facility treating chemical dependency and other addictions, in Louisville, Ky., is widening the path to treatment and support by expanding their approach to client intake, including intake for family members and those closest to the chemically-dependent person or substance abuser.
The Morton Center first implemented walk-in hours for new clients in 2012; they now offer walk-in appointments at least four days a week. Clients, as well as family members of potential clients, also have access to a dedicated intake telephone line where they can ask questions, learn how to self-refer, and gather program information.
Programs are based on the concept that substance use disorders affect not only the individual, but also their family and support system. Services are designed to flex to the specific needs of adults, adolescents, children, families and community members. The center also provides treatment for healthcare and other professionals with substance abuse and dependency issues.
Intake begins with an evaluation and results in a customized treatment plan or a recommendation for appropriate services. Intensive outpatient options span three or four nights per week, depending on a client’s treatment needs and availability.
The completion rate for the Morton Center’s intensive outpatient program is 57 percent; especially impressive considering the national average is 33 percent. Many clients are uninsured or cannot afford a large deductible. Studies continue to show that the number one obstacle to substance abuse treatment is cost. To help clients and family members overcome this barrier, individualized payment plans can be arranged. Clients can also apply to be sponsored for treatment and certain services are intentionally made available at no additional cost.
Priscilla McIntosh is president and CEO of the Morton Center in Louisville, Ky.
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