Why It's So Hard For People To Start Addiction Treatment

Feb 28, 2017

A screen shot from Truth PHARM's Southern Tier Treatment Survey.
Credit Bret Jaspers / WSKG News

Getting access to treatment for addiction can be hard. The advocacy group Truth PHARM recently surveyed people in the region who’ve dealt with opioid addiction and then struggled to find help. 

Truth PHARM founder Alexis Pleus recently spoke with WSKG’s Bret Jaspers.

Interview Highlights:

On getting an initial evaluation:

Alexis Pleus: It seems to be in our area right now, we just don't have enough providers giving evaluations. The other problem is that Broome County used to have the ability to provide evaluations through our Broome County Mental Health, but now we don't provide those services directly any more. So all of those services are farmed out ... in [Broome] County, we have to rely on whatever the provider is willing or able to provide.

On why waiting is dangerous:

AP: Overdose and death is the greatest risk. Every time a person uses, there is a chance that that person could die. So every time we're asking a person to wait for treatment, it's not as if they're going to not use the substance while they're waiting for treatment. They're going to keep using until they can get help.

On how to get more funding for treatment:

AP: What we are asking local elected officials to do is call on the governor for immediate emergency funding. This is a statewide problem, but we actually have three times the death rate of the state average. So we certainly can justify the fact that we have a need here in Broome County and call on the state to provide us with emergency funding.

On a "no wrong door" policy:

AP: Because it's not clear where a person should go for help, a lot of people will go to their primary care physician or they'll go to the emergency room ... Right now, each of those providers will just turn the person away and a lot of times, they don't even tell the person who to call. 

So we would like to see a "no wrong door" policy: so no matter what medical provider you walk into, that person is going to link you with the services that you need.