The David Lawrence Center in Collier County has provided behavioral health solutions in Southwest Florida for 50 years — and they have become a key player in combating opioid addiction.
The non-profit recently received a $320,000 grant from the state through a federally funded initiative to help with the opioid epidemic.
The grant will help fund a variety of programs — including their newest program started in December 2017. The MORE (Maintenance of Opioid Recovery Everyday) Program is a medication-assisted treatment program and currently has 12 enrolled clients.
“We really want to help clients approach addiction and recovery from addiction using a variety of tools,” Maggie Baldwin, Director of the CrossRoads Continuum at the David Lawrence Center, said.
From January to December 2016, there were 952 overdose deaths related to heroin alone in the state of Florida, according to the 2016 Medical Examiner’s report. In Naples, there were 15.
Research shows that the relapse rates for addiction are similar to relapse rate for other chronic conditions like diabetes or cancer,” Baldwin said. “Those are all relapsing conditions just like addiction.”
Baldwin said at the center, they treat addiction like they would a brain disease.
According to a report by the CDC, Florida is one of 22 states that had a drug overdose death rate higher than the national average.
The report also showed the age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (drugs such as fentanyl and tramadol) doubled between 2015 and 2016 from 3.1 to 6.2 per 100,000 people in the nation.
The center helps 9,000 patients a year. Anyone can get help at the center and they offer a variety of financial assistance options.
“Our biggest fear is the funding,” she said. “Making sure the state of Florida, the legislators understand that we need them. We need the funding because we want to help the people succeed.”
Baldwin said treatment is a lot less expensive in the long run.
“It’s a lot more expensive to house someone in a jail cell or a prison cell,” Baldwin said. “Treatment is a lot less expensive than these other avenues where traditionally people with addiction end up.”
The center also gives out Narcan kits for free, and people can pick them up unanimously. The nasal spray is an immediate opiate antidote.
“Anyone from the community can come to the David Lawrence Center and get a Narcan kit,” Baldwin said.
“Our biggest accomplishment is the people that we help,” she said. “When we see somebody who comes back with that year of sobriety and knocks on the window and waves and gives me a thumbs up, I think that’s the biggest accomplishment.”