Opioid Crisis in Kentucky: Help for Individuals and Families

There’s not a single person in the Commonwealth who has not been touched, in some way, by the spreading opioid epidemic. Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, co-workers, friends, neighbors and the list goes on.

If the tide is going to turn on the opioid epidemic, the problem needs to be addressed on two fronts: as a community and by individuals. Families, who are on the frontlines of the battle, often find themselves lacking in support, in need of more information and with too few resources to help their loved ones access treatment.

At Bluegrass, we are a mission-driven, nonprofit working in central Kentucky for the past 50 years to of mental health and substance use services. We work with communities to develop innovative programs to respond rapidly to both individual and community needs.   

“The first thing families need to realize is that although opioid use likely started as a voluntary act, as the individual continues to use they no longer are able to choose. Getting the drug, and taking it, becomes a compulsion, one caused by physical changes in the brain,” said Jim Bush, vice president of substance use services.

“It’s not reasonable, or practical, to think an individual can just stop using drugs, in the same way one wouldn’t expect a diabetic to just start producing insulin or someone with COPD to just start using oxygen better,” Bush said.

Within that framework, it becomes easier to understand the person with addiction is sick, and needs both medical and mental health services. Taking the first step to recovery can be difficult. Families and loved ones are sometimes reluctant to bring up the subject. They may not know what to say, when to say it, or what the next step might be. Again, Bluegrass can help, with solid advice based on scientific research and years of helping people and families recover from addiction.

Individuals can get started with services 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the Bluegrass Helpline at 1.800.928.8000.

Beyond the phone call

Making that call to the Helpline, whether you are the individual suffering or a family member, can begin the journey to recovery. And Bluegrass will be there every step of the way.

Bluegrass offers a continuum of substance use treatment options, including medication-assisted treatment, outpatient therapy, intensive outpatient treatment, and a 28-day inpatient treatment programs.

Medication Assisted Treatment

Bluegrass believes, and clinical research demonstrates, that responsible Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) is can be a very successful approach to addressing the opioid and heroin epidemic. Since 1975, the Bluegrass program has offered adults a comprehensive treatment plan that includes both counseling and MAT. As the longest-running treatment program in Kentucky, Bluegrass brings together all treatment options into one program including: individual and group therapy; psychiatric care; case management; drug testing; and treatment with MAT. These programs maintain the highest standards, is licensed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky and accredited by The Joint Commission. Further, Bluegrass is a not-for-profit organization, whose sole mission is to help Kentuckians live better lives.

Outpatient Services

Bluegrass offers outpatient therapy for substance use throughout its 17-county service area. These services include relapse prevention and recovery skill development in addition to individual and group therapy. Those with substance use disorder are treated by licensed behavioral health professionals trained in treatment approaches proven to be effective. Treatment is based on the needs of the individual.

Treatment is provided in the office located nearest to the individual. Appointments are scheduled quickly so recovery can begin.

Intensive Outpatient Program

The Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) provides group therapy and education three days per week for at least nine hours each week. Individual and family counseling is also provided. Therapists help clients learn coping, relapse prevention and recovery maintenance skills.

IOP is more intensive than outpatient therapy but allows clients to live in their homes and work in the community while receiving treatment. IOP is for adults and treats both men and women in the group setting. Currently, services are available in Boyle, Harrison, Fayette, Madison and Scott counties.

Residential Treatment – Schwartz Center

The treatment program at the Schwartz Center is centered around the needs of the individual. Adult men and women live and participate in a short-term rehabilitation program for up to 28 days. A daily structured schedule focuses on group therapy and education.

Residents also are given an orientation to community support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and other 12-step programs. Individuals participate in individual therapy, recreation, case management and peer support services. The Schwartz Center accepts individuals in MAT programs, and individuals who have co-occurring mental health and substance use problems.

Center for Women and Children

Pregnant women and mothers with children up to the age of two have access to 28-day treatment at the Center for Women and Children. This program collaborates with hospitals, physicians, MAT programs and social services to help pregnant women and mothers receive the treatment they need.

The goal of addiction treatment is to provide a path to lifelong recovery for those struggling with substance use disorder. “At Bluegrass, we believe everyone is capable of achieving recovery and maintaining sobriety,” said Don Rogers, Chief Clinical Officer. “We are here to help individuals and their families, live their best lives.”

For more information about opioid use disorder treatment, or treatment for any substance use disorder, please call the Bluegrass 24-Hour Helpline at 1.800.928.8000.