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New drug treatment option in Greenfield

GREENFIELD — Options for addiction treatment in Franklin County continue to tick upward, with a program new to the county set to open next month.

Clinical and Support Options is preparing to open an intensive outpatient addiction treatment program, an “IOP” in treatment and insurance parlance. It will be run out of the nonprofit mental health agency’s Arch Street office.

The IOP is a three-hour daily session, to run afternoons Monday through Friday in Greenfield, aimed at providing another rung in the ladder up from addiction, making sobriety, rather than drugs or alcohol, a daily priority.

“A lot of drug and alcohol use is a daily thing, it’s a life routine, and just waking up in the morning is a challenge. So having something daily sometimes helps people sort of get off the train and start getting some new routines scheduled,” said Dawn Geller, CSO’s substance abuse services clinical supervisor.

The intensive outpatient model is one piece of the puzzle, potentially the right piece for people leaving detox or short-term rehab who don’t need, don’t want or can’t find long-term inpatient treatment.

“An IOP is a very high level of care. I think of it as similar to partial hospitalization, where it is needed to keep somebody from needing to go inpatient,” Geller said.

Identifying the level of care someone needs — from detox through inpatient rehab through long-term sober living, outpatient counseling, 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous — is the first challenge, followed by getting the person to engage in that level of care, Geller said.

Next come the questions of whether that level of care is accessible in the community and whether their insurance will cover it.

The structure of the 15-day average session might keep someone from backsliding while they wait to get into another level of the very full treatment system, Geller said, and IOPs are generally covered by insurance.

The three weeks also gives clinicians more time to assess someone’s particular needs, and, potentially, for that person to come to terms with their next step.

The daily sessions involve group or individual counselling and a curriculum intended to instruct participants about the workings of addiction and provide strategies to recognize and head off relapse

“Primarily it’s going to be about learning skills to stay clean and sober,” Geller said. How to reach out to others and build their own support systems and how to take advantage of existing supports like AA or NA, which counselors say can be initially jarring,

None of the various steps are likely to work on their own, Geller said, and the IOP model is only one step.

Commenting on the situation in Franklin County, with the IOP on the way, with the state seeking bids for a detox and a rehab facility and the new Watershed women’s inpatient recovery home opened this year, leaders of a locally grown anti-addiction effort spurred by the uptick in heroin damage saw improvement, but ample room for more.

“We’re turning the corner with treatment and beds in the community,” said John Merrigan, a leader of the Opioid Education and Awareness Task Force. The broad-based, Franklin, Hampshire and Athol group is a coalition of doctors, treatment providers, police, prosecutors, jailers, parents, recovering addicts and concerned residents begun last year, and whose activities have included advocacy, education in various sectors and gathering much-needed data on the problem.

Looking over a color-coordinated table of resources the group considers to be absent, available or in the works, Merrigan and Marissa Hebble, the group’s professional coordinator, saw resources becoming available but not necessarily in the volume necessary.

“There’s still work to be done at every level here,” Hebble said.

The IOP is set to open Sept. 15. Inquiries can be made at 774-1000, or 413-582-0471, ext. 5094.

You can reach Chris Curtis at: or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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