WHIO Reports: Suboxone clinic hopes to provide more addiction assistance in Montgomery County

DAYTON — We are two weeks into the new year and seven people have died from a drug overdose in Montgomery County, according to Public Health Dayton and Montgomery County’s online overdose dashboard.

The latest numbers from the county showed the number of people dying from drugs last year increased more than three percent from 2020.

The Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug & Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) supports roughly 50 mental and substance abuse providers in the county. They believe more treatment centers are needed in more communities.

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“People need access to quality treatment and that access can look different everywhere,” Tina Rezash Rogal, ADAMHS director of strategic initiatives and communication, said.

Razash said that Montgomery County has been through a lot the last few years and while its residents have made strides, the coronavirus pandemic has impacted many people’s mental health.

“The pandemic obviously impacted people’s mental health, coming right on the heels of the tornadoes and the mass shooting in the Oregon District,” Rezash said.

In 2021, Public Health’s Community Overdose Action Team said the county had 335 overdose deaths. Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, the team said there had been 288.

“We know people are struggling. They’re stressed. They’re dealing with anxiety and they’re fearful. Those things can all lead to increase of mental health issues and the use of substances,” Rezash said.

To help, Full Circle Recovery Services in Dayton said they plan to open a drug treatment facility in the former Livingston Care Center on Livingston Avenue. The CEO of the company, John Pawelski, said he has responded to countless overdose calls as a former Dayton police officer.

“I was on the side of thinking that the way we resolved addiction was to make more arrests,” Pawelski said.

Today, Pawelski said he believes that is not the way to solve the problem.

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Pawelski said he believes his facility will give people who are serious about getting clean, the resources to do so.

“We test out folks. We test them every week, sometimes twice a week, as needed. We do random testing, because we want to make sure that if they say they’re clean, they’re clean,” Pawelski said.

Admitted patients at the clinic will have access to addiction assessments, clinical outpatient care, group counseling and prescribed opiate addiction treatment, like Suboxone.

The city’s planning and zoning department has approved Pawelski’s plan, but some neighbors of the future clinic said they are upset and concerned.

In an informal community meeting earlier this week, residents neighboring the future cite of the clinic expressed their concerns.

“I’m concerned for the users of the clinic as much as I am for the people who live here and yes there are far better places to put it,” Wendy Parker, who lives in the neighborhood, said.

Rezash said that putting the clinic in this area can provide access to those who may not have it.

“If opening a new treatment facility in an area that maybe doesn’t have others nearby can provide additional access to people in that neighborhood, we would think that’s a good thing as long as that treatment provider is following all the rules and regulations,” Rezash said.