Opioid summit confirms changing drug culture



The Dubois County team that went to the Indiana Supreme Court’s Statewide Opioid Summit Wednesday in Indianapolis said the daylong conference was worth attending.

“It was highly enlightening,” said Phillip Payne, a treatment program facilitator at Dubois County Community Corrections. “It confirmed how drug culture is changing, and how we need to change our methods for treatment.”

Wednesday’s summit provided information and confirmed ideas of how to deal with the crisis that is moving across the state and country. Payne attended the summit with Dubois Superior Court Judge Mark McConnell, who handles drug cases in his court; county Prosecutor Anthony Quinn; Chief Probation Officer Jenny Lampert; Dubois County Sheriff’s Department Narcotics Officer John Anderson; defense attorney Scott Blazey; Mike Denu, director of Court Substance Abuse Services; Ashley Manship from the Dubois County Department of Child Services; and local pharmacist John Toy.

“It is always good to see what the trends are and how things are revolving,” McConnell said. “You don’t always agree with everything you hear, but you try to get a few things that might be helpful. So you have to pick out what you can use.”

In a session he attended, McConnell heard information about the OpenBeds program that is connected to the state’s 211 line. The 211 system is a phone line service and online database through which Hoosiers can learn about available assistance programs.

“Anyone — those who are suffering from an addiction, a relative, a person working in the justice system — can go into this and they can connect you with appropriate services,” McConnell said. “You go through a menu to describe the problem, and they put you in touch with substance abuse treatment providers. They try to connect you with the closest services to you, either with helping to set up appointments or finding a bed for the person.”

Having a centralized place to find that kind of information on treatment services will help a lot of people, he said.

“When people try to find out who offers services, searching could take hours or days. This could give you that information in 10 or 15 minutes,” McConnell said. “That is a public service that I’m sure lots of family members would find to be helpful.”

Payne attended a session that dealt with Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Teams, also called START. The teams are representatives of agencies a person would deal with in their specific abuse and treatment case, like mental health or probation or child services. Those representatives “look at what the treatment options are available for the person, and how to best address the (person’s) problem,” Payne said, “so that we don’t do things that adversely affect what someone else is doing, or duplicate services.”

Dubois County does have similar teams, though there are not teams that deal with opioids specifically. “With the teams we have, if we add a couple more people to it, (the team) would meet the (state’s) model,” Payne said. “I’m already talking to the assistant director (of community corrections) about that.”

Lampert, who heads the probation department, said that while she and team members already knew a lot of information that was shared, she also got information about opioid reporting and hopes to get more specific data when the state makes it available.

“The big push is to get counties to come up with plans and come up with resources for dealing with this problem, she said. “We’re working toward that, but it’s a lot to deal with.”

Since 2008, more than 11,000 Hoosiers have died from overdoses; that includes all kinds of overdoses, not just opioids. Nevertheless, “that’s a lot,” Lampert said. “And that’s just in the last 10 years.”

Having more treatment services is key, Lampert and Payne said.

“I came back from the summit with a lot of information confirming what I suspected was the direction in which we need to go in terms of treatment,” Payne said.

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