DHEC Recognizes September as National Recovery Month

DHEC proudly recognizes National Recovery Month in September, and all of those with substance use disorders who are seeking treatment, along with the 14 inpatient and 88 outpatient facilities for chemically dependent or addicted persons (CDAP) in SC. These patients, their loved ones, CDAP facilities, and a myriad of recovery organizations continue to work together to offer the best quality of care.

Stigmas associated with substance use make people afflicted with addictions fearful of coming forward. Our collective mission with CDAP facilities is to remove shame, help those suffering, and to make treatment opportunities as accessible as possible.

“It is so important that we work together so that the CDAP facilities won’t feel like we are just regulators, but that we’re actual partners working towards the same goal to give the best care for people receiving their services,” said Charlene Bell in Healthcare Quality. “This gives them the comfort of knowing they can have truthful, open dialogue with us when issues arise and that we can problem-solve together, and that DHEC is here to help and listen without judgment or fear.”

There is often a lack of understanding in society as to how easy it is for people to fall into addiction and how many people do not fit into the stereotype of who “someone dependent on substances” is.

“It is important to understand that the physical dependence on these drugs that cause withdrawal symptoms can happen to anyone, even if they are taken as prescribed and are not being abused,” said Tricia Gordon, Program Director of Clear Skye Treatment Center.

Individuals working towards recovery are at their most vulnerable and should receive support, treatment, and oversight. The Beaufort County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Department (BCADAD) has provided treatment to those seeking recovery for the past 46 years.

“In FY20, BCADAD patients completed services over 56% of the time, which exceeds national averages,” stated Steve Donaldson, Director of the BCADAD. “The department’s Prevention and Treatment components exceeded 92% patient satisfaction performance standards.”

Facilities like BCADAD are not just responsible for administering services, but are also responsible to improve mental health and educate the community on how to care for dependent persons and prevent overdoses.

“Individuals who have been in numerous treatment episodes with little success are now doing quite well as a result of the combination of counseling and medical services/medication we are able to provide,” said William J. McCord with the Tri-County Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.

Another CDAP facility, The Phoenix Center, has been operating since the 1970s and currently serves around 5,000 individuals each year in treatment and another 10,000 in prevention.

“We are a treatment agency, not a recovery organization,but we believe that clients do best when they have access to both treatment and recovery support,” said Rebecca Maddox, Executive Director at the Phoenix Center.

Recovery is a challenge regardless of external circumstances, but the pandemic does not make the process any easier.

“People don’t realize that we are an essential service provider and clients rely on us to be there during the worst of times, pandemic or disaster included,” Maddox said. “We are still seeing them, sometimes face-to-face and sometimes virtually, and we are still able to provide services that patients in recovery also might need that people don’t realize, like Hepatitis vaccines onsite and rapid HIV testing.”

The Greenwood-Edgefield-McCormick-Abbeville Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse dba Cornerstone (GEMACADA) has also reached out to patients during the pandemic.

“Telehealth and phone services are ways we connect with them during quarantine, and we have been able to provide resources for patients to connect with other mutual aid groups and programs during this timeframe,” said Teresa Roy, Community Outreach Director.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has not lessened the severity of the opioid epidemic in the state.

“If anything, increasing evidence points to a rise in drug and alcohol misuse as individuals struggle to cope with the many challenges that have come along with the current COVID-19 health crisis,” said Christine Martin, Director of Clinical Services at the Center for Behavioral Health and President of the South Carolina Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (SCATOD). “Now, more than ever, agencies like ours and DHEC must work together to ensure ongoing access to care for those seeking and in need of help remain available even during a state of emergency.”   

DHEC celebrates the amazing success stories of those in recovery thanks to medication, behavioral therapies, and case management. Recovery is possible and success stories should be shared. There is always hope and there will always be help to those who need it.

If you or a loved one need assistance in finding treatment, you can learn more about licensed CDAP facilities in South Carolina here. You can also search for a facility by using DHEC’s Find A Facility application here.

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