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Obstacles to Help for Heroin Addicts

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By Jason Weinstein.
A narrow window and limited options. Those are some of the obstacles heroin addicts face when they look for help.

"They want it for that ten minutes. And if you give them an appointment for a week or two weeks or three weeks down the road, 1, 2, 3 weeks down the road, if they're still alive they may not want it anymore," said Alexis Pleus, Founder of Truth Pharm and parent who lost her son to addiction.

Dannielle Swart's son Sean is currently in long-term rehab for a 10-year heroin addiction. "There were many times, many fits and starts when he was trying to get into rehab and then the delay," said Swart. "I want to say it was the Addiction Crisis Center, the ACC, he was trying to get into and he was told by his probation officer, 'call every ten minutes,'" said Swart.

The problem goes beyond Broome County.

"There was a place up in Syracuse he tried to get into and he had to get on a waiting list. He finally got in over a year later," said Swart.

There is no medically-assisted detox available in Broome County. The state-funded Addiction Crisis Center in Binghamton offers medically-monitored withdrawal. The difference is that addicts won't get medicine to help blunt the effects of withdrawal. It's the lack of that kind of detox in the area that has some concerned.

"That's probably something that stops many people from getting into substance abuse treatment, is that fear of what is going to happen when they're withdrawing from the substance," said Carole Kuklis, substance abuse counselor at the Addiction Center of Broome County.

There are two outpatient treatment providers in Broome County: New Horizons and the Addiction Center of Broome County. ACBC offers five-day per week treatment programs. In addition to running the Addiction Crisis Center, Fairview Recovery Services also has other programs for different stages of rehabilitation. But these venues are struggling to keep up with demand.

The Addiction Center of Broome County saw the number of what it calls it's units of service jump from 16,535 in 2013 to 20,359 in 2014. That's an increase of 23 percent in a year.

"So that's my dream. If a person wanted to help he would be offered it. Seeing someone got to the ER after an overdose, it's crazy to me that they stabilize them and send them home with no treatment. It's like a death sentence," said Pleus.

Broome County officials say they are working with state and local treatment facilities to provide beds designated for heroin detox through the Sheriff’s office.

****In Broome County, Jason Weinstein, Fox 40 HD News.****