Local programs continue to care for drug addicts

Although methamphetamine use remains a problem in Adair County, programs such as those offered at Preferred Family Healthcare aim to provide a way for drug abusers to recover.

Despite a decrease in the number of reported meth busts in the county since last December, Kirksville Police Chief Jim Hughes says the drug is still prevalent. The Kirksville Police Department maintains that the city’s pseudoephedrine ordinance — passed during February 2014 and meant to target sale of one of meth’s principal ingredients — has done what it was intended to do and cut down on the number of meth labs around Adair County, according to statistics from the Missouri State Highway Patrol. However, Hughes says making meth more difficult to manufacture locally creates an influx of more product entering the county from other areas. Preferred Family Healthcare in Kirksville offers adult and adolescent residential rehabilitation programs to combat drug addiction in the county.

Preferred Family Healthcare admitted 229 adolescents into its rehab program during the last fiscal year and 246 adults during the last six months, according to statistics provided by Preferred Family Healthcare. Of these admissions, 97 were counted as successful for adolescents and 45 were counted as successful for adults, according to the statistics.

For the adult drug users, nearly half were primary users of methamphetamine, and for Adair County residents admitted into the program, 61 primarily used methamphetamine, according to the statistics.

Preferred Family Healthcare program statistics (2)

Amy Voiles, Preferred Family Healthcare program director, says the organization can house up to 26 adolescents at one time in their residential program, a program which she says is paid by Medicaid, private insurance or Purchase of Service funds provided to the organization by the Department of Mental Health. Voiles says these funds are specifically provided by the Department to be used for those who do not have access to insurance. She says adolescents will typically stay in the residential program for 45-60 days, based on their goals and aftercare.

Voiles says Preferred Family Healthcare’s adolescent outpatient program extends about 90 miles around Kirksville, with some travelling counselors who go and provide services to people in surrounding communities.

“That’s really a pretty big area because there [aren’t] a lot of adolescent services in northeast Missouri, so we travel a lot to see people,” Voiles says.

Voiles says Preferred Family Healthcare can house up to 23 adults at one time in its residential program. She says the adult residential program is typically full at all times and usually has a wait list. She says Preferred Family Healthcare often provides a lot of free service because the Purchase of Service funding it is provided typically runs out with about a quarter of the fiscal year remaining.

Voiles says she thinks an individual’s time with Preferred Family Healthcare has been successful if they make progress regarding their treatment goals. She says the most important part of the process is being able to pinpoint whether an individual is dealing with pure substance abuse or their mental health and treat the issue. Voiles says individuals are ready to move on to less intensive levels of care if they’ve met their treatment goals at Preferred Family Healthcare.

Fred Shaffer, a Truman State psychology professor who teaches a psychopharmacology course, says drug addiction has both genetic and environmental components.

“It’s proper to think of it as a disease as long as we realize that people who suffer from disease can make disastrous decisions and society needs to hold them responsible for the consequences of their decisions,” Shaffer says.

Shaffer says younger people are more likely than adults to become quickly addicted to substances that can produce physical dependency. He says both age and genetic vulnerability of becoming an addict can play a part in addiction, as can the size and frequency of the dose of a substance. Shaffer says over time, the brain becomes less capable of performing executive functions, such as thinking of likely consequences of actions. He says this leads to impulsiveness and disastrous decision making.

Shaffer says another effect of substance abuse is when individuals might enjoy a drug less as tolerance develops. He says because the reward gained by taking a drug diminishes over time, attaining the same effects requires higher or more frequent doses.