Opioid Crisis: Getting Over Recovery Road Blocks

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- The road to getting clean can be a long, difficult one. 

For addicts, the temptation can be too strong and resources can be too limited.  For them, there's no clear path out of addiction.  But there's also some roadblocks for the people who are trying to help, like first responders, addiction counselors and officers.

"I've actually had one officer who saved two different people in the same day," explains Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes.

He's talking about deputies using Narcan; his office was one of the first in the state to have officers start carrying.

But revival by Narcan is not always a turning point.  Narcan reverses the overdose, but it doesn't cure addiction.

"We've had to deal with folks on more than one occasion," Sheriff Barnes explains.

Another frustration for the Sheriff is that due to federal confidentiality regulations, it's hard for his deputies to give out medical information to get people who overdose the help they need.

"Saving a life is one thing," he says. "But the other thing we need to be doing is getting them into some type of treatment program to make sure we don't get this call again."

That's where Mike Yow comes in.  He runs the Fellowship Hall treatment program in Greensboro.

"Were trying to create an access list of access points with contact people in various treatment centers so first responders can turn to an access point and access treatment for people," Yow explains.

Even with a clear road map , there's still the risk of hitting a road block.

"The idea of someone overdosing and going 'Oh, I'm ready for treatment right away,' that's a fallacy. That's just not how it works for most people."

Plus, immediate access to treatment isn't always available or a person could be in a family or financial bind that prevents them from getting help.

But it's a work in progress.

Sheriff Barnes says he'd like to see that gray area about disclosing medical information refined, so his deputies are better equipped to help people in the long term.

As for Mike Yow, he says they're working on creating rapid response teams in Guilford County to periodically check in with people who overdose to ensure they get the treatment they need.
 

© 2017 WFMY-TV


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