By Josh Mitchell
Corinth Today News Editor
Alcorn County residents who have fallen victim to the opioid epidemic now have a new service available in Corinth to help them.
Region IV Mental Health Services started accepting clients this month for its new Medication Assisted Treatment program.
People with opioid addictions will be prescribed medications to help with their painkiller dependence and also receive counseling at the same time, said Adrian Owen, Region IV’s director of alcohol and drug services.
Those in the program will not be allowed to only receive medication. They must also participate in some kind of therapy as well, such as intensive outpatient, inpatient or peer support, said Owen.
Drugs prescribed in the program help with opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, dehydration and fatigue, Owen said.
Addiction, fatal overdoses, crime and broken families have come out of the opioid crisis, and something must be done to combat the problem, Owen noted. New clients are being accepted, and there are opportunities for financial assistance.
Region IV Interim Executive Director Jason Ramey hopes the program helps people with addiction problems get off opioids. Depending on the individual needs of the client the treatment could last months or more than a year, Ramey said. Ultimately, the person could possibly be weened off the medications that help fight the addiction as well.
“It’s going to be a long process,” Ramey told the Region IV board at its monthly meeting in Corinth on Thursday.
The program will require people suffering from opioid addictions to make a commitment and stick with the treatment, Ramey added.
The Region IV medical staff was required to go through special training with the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to prescribe the medications. Some of the medications include Suboxone and Vivitrol.
Owen said she thinks the new Medication Assisted Treatment program at Region IV can help a lot of people, but she said it’s not a cure all and not for everyone. Those who take part in the program must have a primary diagnosis of an opioid use disorder, and they must want a different life, Owen said.
This program is being encouraged nationwide due to overdose deaths from pain pills and heroin, she said. Ramey and Region IV Clinical Director Nikki Tapp have been supportive of offering alcohol and drug programs to help people, Owen said.
If the program is successful it could be expanded, Ramey said. While the program is currently based at the Region IV Foote Street office in Corinth, it is available to people within the agency’s five-county area, which includes Alcorn, Prentiss, Tishomingo, Tippah and DeSoto counties, Ramey said.