Evergreen Treatment Services (ETS) has been ahead of the opioid addiction treatment curve for over 20 years with their REACH Program. This program focuses on serving the homeless and addicted with outreach and in-depth case management using a variety of harm-reduction approaches. The primary goal is to meet clients where they are in their recovery process, and ultimately help them to achieve successful and healthy lives. An important part of REACH services is that they are not contingent upon a client’s sobriety or abstinence. This allows addicted participants the opportunity to keep fighting for their recovery even though they may have been overcome by their addiction during the process.
Sound familiar? The principles of the REACH program are much like that of the later established LEAD Program. With origins in King County, Washington the LEAD Program is privately funded by multiple sponsors and partners with ETS to help treat participants of the program. The Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) Program is gaining clout and spreading to law enforcement agencies across the US. Instead of the cyclical process of addiction arrest, jail time, release, repeat – officials are beginning to embrace the idea that treatment rather than mandatory jail time will produce the long-term recovery results that society should really be striving toward.
The “addiction epidemic” as it has been rightfully named, has been front and center in the political realm as well. Presidential hopefuls are sharing their intended plans and President Obama announced that the 2017 budget will include $1.1 billion to combat opioid use disorders with expanded access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs. Nevertheless, there is still a segment of the American population that refuses to accept treatment facilities into their communities, mostly for lack of opioid treatment awareness.
This past week PBS aired a powerful 2 hour Frontline Documentary, Chasing Heroin. ETS was one of the facilities featured as the documentary followed a patient into treatment. This film follows the stories of multiple people from varied backgrounds, all fighting the same fight but at different points in their recovery. A core message was that addiction is a disease not a crime and should be treated as such. Those affected are most likely to achieve success when they choose to, not when they are forced to. One police officer, who is involved in the LEAD program said that she acts as more of a “case manager” when interacting with individuals suffering from addiction. Encouraging, uplifting and caring.
Chasing Heroin is enlightening and inspiring look into the state of addiction in the U.S. It can be viewed online at PBS.org.