'Critical link' in battle against opioid crisis to be unveiled

CORRYVILLE, Ohio – A new program created to connect more Hamilton County residents with short and long-term treatment for opioid addiction will officially welcome its first patients this week.

A 16-bed Engagement Center is set to open Tuesday at Hamilton County’s Corryville-based Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Center on Burnet Avenue. The center will primarily serve residents who have recently overdosed and have been referred by a local emergency department.

The program's launch "is another piece of a complicated puzzle in addressing the opiate epidemic," said Neil Tilow, president and CEO of the nonprofit addiction treatment provider Talbert House, which will manage the center.

Once admitted, patients will be connected with a case manager and receive daily medical management as they begin the process of detoxing off of heroin or other opioids.

Patients will remain at the facility – receiving peer counseling and other short-term treatment services – while they work with their case manager to find a longer range recovery plan, said Patrick Tribbe, president of the Hamilton County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board. The board is funding the $1.4 million project using a federal grant issued to states hit hardest by the opioid epidemic.

“The cravings associated with opioid dependency are so powerful, and unless you can get someone support immediately you’re going to lose that patient,” Tribbe said. “They will go right back to their patterns. We’re trying to break that cycle in their life.”

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Tribbe said the program is a "critical link" in a host of efforts underway in Hamilton County to try to move more area residents into long term treatment programs and reduce the number of opioid-related overdoses and deaths.

“We’re really trying to be innovative as we work to bring all the resources we can to address this problem,” he said.

More programs targeting opioid crisis

In 2017, nearly a dozen people overdosed each day across Hamilton County, according to local data.

Officials are hoping that rate begins to drop dramatically as more local efforts to curb the crisis ramp up this year.

"This is about saving lives and getting people the help they need," said Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus, who also leads the county's Heroin Coalition.

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