HEAL - Help End Addiction for Life is a new consortium dedicated to reducing the scope of substance abuse via education, awareness, prevention, and access to services.
"For the first time in a long time, there's an energized effort that's going to have some solutions," said Matt Brown, the Chief of Staff to the CEO at Addiction Recovery Care (ARC), during this month's first-ever meeting of HEAL in Perry County.
HEAL currently has a lot of momentum in the region, with a presence now in Letcher (where it all started), Harlan, Owsley, and Perry counties. According to Van Breeding, a physician with Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation (MCHC) in Whitesburg and the facilitator of the evening's meeting, MCHC founded HEAL eight months ago in an effort to organize people from all aspects of addiction treatment into one, large group that can then work to solve the region's opioid crisis.
"If it's (the drug problem) ever going to be fixed, it's going to take us ourselves to fix it," Breeding said, speaking to members of the community from various organizations dedicated in some way to solving Eastern Kentucky's battle with drug addiction.
"We want to utilize what's already in place. We've all been working on this, but we've been working in small groups and not putting the whole picture together."
The ultimate vision, he said, which MCHC has developed with SOAR, is to bring together all of the resources in one community - law enforcement, residential recovery centers, prevention, inpatient detox centers, outpatient treatment, Suboxone treatment, etc. - and have them work together to create a unified, seamless process for helping an addict find and access the help and support they need.
"HEAL means hope. Every day, everything we do helps save lives."Van Breeding, MCHC
"This is an inclusive, working group, because it's going to take all of us," Breeding noted. "The need is much greater than what any of us can take care of alone."
In addition to the meetings, Breeding encouraged everyone to help educate the public and reduce the stigma and the prejudice towards addicts that we see in our communities. And he said it's also important to share news about resources with others, too.
"KRCC (Kentucky River Community Care) is an integral partner, because they deal with the mental health aspect of addiction, and KRCC has Hickory Hill Recovery Center, which provides residential treatment," Breeding said. "We need KRCC to help us take care of patients."
KRCC was well represented at the meeting, which included representatives from ARH, Mountain Comp, Eastern Recovery Care, UNITE, the Perry County Health Dept., and more.