Paths to Recovery: A different approach to opioid use disorder

In Buncombe County alone, the emergency rooms have handled more than 350 overdose cases this year, but what might be more startling is 9 out of 10 who do some sort of detox will use again within six months. (Source: WLOS Staff)

In any given week in Buncombe County, two to four people die from an opioid overdose.

News 13 has spent months digging into the treatment options in the mountains. What we uncovered is it takes a variety of approaches,and treatment is not one-size-fits-all.

In Buncombe County alone, the emergency rooms have handled more than 350 overdose cases in 2017, but what might be more startling is nine out of 10 people who do some sort of detox will use again within six months.

"Station 16 first response, 14-10 emergency ambulance mutual aid for the county. It will be for an overdose subject. Will be in a silver car," said a Buncombe County dispatcher in mid-October.

It was a call for an overdose on an off-ramp to I-26. Another driver had spotted the car pulled off to the side of the road.

“They're advising they're attempting CPR or at least breathing for the patient at this time," said the dispatcher as the ambulance rolled on scene.

According to Kevin Mahoney, director of Sunrise Community a recovery group, the community doesn't grasp the seriousness of this crisis.

“We’re still two years into this, and people are still acting that they're surprised there's an opioid crisis,” Mahoney said.

At Sunrise Community, they're attacking the situation from a different angle -- with peer counselors.

“You can't drag someone along in recovery,” Mahoney said.

They make sure those they help are aware detox isn't their only option.

“It shouldn't be go in and go out, go in and go out,” Mahoney said of detox centers, because treatment is often only as long as seven days.

Mahoney believes the mountains need more long-term treatment. Right now, rehab programs can have up to a two week wait.

“I’ve even got a few friends that have gone to different states to go to rehab,” said Michael Kelly, who volunteers at The Steady Collective, the area’s second needle exchange program.

“It's not us and them. It's all of us together,” said Michel Guicheney, of The Steady Collective.

Through The Steady Collective’s two weekly clinics, they’ve provided over 44,000 clean needles free of charge and distributed over 1,000 Narcan kits this year, leading to a startling discovery.

“Some people will use it, some won't because it destroys the high. You can't get high afterwards,” Kelly said.

So, they're changing their message to one of caution.

“Do small test shots and don't use alone,” Kelly said.

Pointing those wanting help in the right direction.

“We facilitate a medication assisted treatment group which hasn't really caught on in the community either,” Mahoney said.

They hope to change the community's perception of the crisis.

“People have a lot of venom behind it, there's a lot of energy and a lot of negative feelings towards it. You got to go where you got to go, and you have to use what works with people,” Mahoney said.

Treatment options and numbers to call:

If someone is in a crisis, please have them call 1-800-849-6127 or 911




If you are pregnant and need substance use treatment support, call: 828-771-5500

If you are a healthcare professional and you’d like education on opioid use disorder or medication-assisted therapy, call: 828-257-4475

If you would like someone to speak to your organization or group: 828-257-4475

Vaya Health

Buncombe County: Family Preservation Services; 828-225-3100 1314-F Patton Ave., Asheville, NC 28806 OR RHA Health Services; 828-254-2700 356 Biltmore Ave., Asheville, NC 28801 Mobile Crisis – Call 1-888-573-1006

Graham County: Appalachian Community Services; 828-479-6466 217 South Main St., Robbinsville, NC 28771 Mobile Crisis – Call 1-888-315-2880

Haywood County: Appalachian Community Services; 828-452-1395 1482 Russ Ave., Waynesville, NC 28786 OR Meridian Health Services; 828-456-8604 131 Walnut St., Waynesville, NC 28786 Mobile Crisis – Call 1-888-315-2880

Henderson County: Family Preservation Services; 828-697-4187 1430 Asheville Hwy., Hendersonville, NC 28791 Mobile Crisis – Call 1-888-573-1006

Jackson County: Meridian Health Services; 828-631-3973 154 Medical Park Loop, Sylva, NC 28779 Mobile Crisis – Call 1-888-315-2880

Macon County: Appalachian Community Services; 828-524-9385 100 Thomas Heights #206, Franklin, NC 28734 OR Meridian Health Services; 828-524-6342 102 Thomas Heights, Franklin, NC 28734 Mobile Crisis – Call 1-888-315-2880

Madison County: RHA Health Services; 828-649-9174 13 S. Main St., Marshall, NC 28753 Mobile Crisis – Call 1-888-573-1006

McDowell County: RHA Health Services; 828-652-2919 486 Spaulding Road, Suite B Marion, NC 28752 Mobile Crisis – Call 1-888-573-1006

Mitchell County: RHA Health Services; 828-765-0894 129 Skyview Circle, Spruce Pine, NC 28777 Mobile Crisis – Call 1-888-573-1006

Polk County: Family Preservation Services; 828-894-2290 94 White Drive, Columbus, NC 28722 Mobile Crisis – Call 1-888-573-1006

Rutherford County: Family Preservation Services; 828-287-7945 356 Charlotte Road, Rutherfordton, NC 28139 Mobile Crisis – Call 1-888-573-1006

Swain County: Appalachian Community Services; 828-488-3294 100 Teptal Terrace,Bryson City, NC 28713 Mobile Crisis – Call 1-888-315-2880

Transylvania County: Blue Ridge Community Health; 828-883-5550 89 Hospital Drive, Suite B, Brevard, NC 28712 OR Meridian Health Services; 828-883-2708 69 N. Broad St., Brevard, NC 28712 Mobile Crisis – Call 1-888-573-1006

Yancey County: RHA Health Services; 828-682-2111 72 Blue Ridge Lane, Burnsville, NC 28714 Mobile Crisis – Call 1-888-573-1006

More Paths to Recovery:

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