Finding a place for drug treatment made easier

When someone is seeking treatment for drug addiction, any obstacle can seem insurmountable.

Frustration can mount for addicts who sometimes must call several state-funded addiction treatment facilities before finding a free bed. According to Charles Dike, state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services medical director, the process can be enough to make them change their mind and use drugs instead of seeking treatment.

To improve the chances addicts will get help, the department debuted a standalone website last month to put information about which treatment facilities have beds available at people's fingertips.

"Before now, the most difficult complaint people would have was how to locate beds," Dike said. "These poeple would spend hours calling different facilities — you would have to call each of them one by one."

Using a $1 million grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the department built the website so that staff at DMHAS-funded treatment facilities can update their availability immediately.

People struggling with addiction or substance abuse would easily get frustrated and abandon that process, Dike said.

"You give up after six because you're already distracted," he said.

The site, built separately from the DMHAS website at ctaddictionservices.com, shows up-to-the-minute information about the number of open beds at Connecticut detox programs, residential treatment facilities and recovery houses.

It's updated 24 hours a day and available on smartphones, tablets or computers. Information about addication treatment is also always available at the state's ACCESS Line, 1 (800) 563-4086. 

The department keeps regular records of bed capacity at the facilities it funds, DMHAS spokeswoman Diana Lejardi said, but information about immediate availability at each facility was never available to the public.

"We always knew what we were funding," Lejardi said. "This is just a way for a user ... to easily access the info quickly and accurately."

The state-funded facilities typically operate at about 90 percent full, Dike said.

He said the site cuts down the amount of time it takes patients to find an open bed and makes it easier for doctors and nurses directing people to treatment to find somewhere to send their patients.

The site is also aimed at friends and family members of people who might need treatment for addiction.

"Family members are sometimes the ones with the mental stability to ask for beds for their loved ones who are maybe going through withdrawal," Dike said. "They would in the past be the people making all those calls."

The website will make that task just a little easier.

"That will be a deep relief," he said.

m.shanahan@theday.com

 

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