The “opioid crisis,” as it has become known, is sweeping the nation. States and communities are struggling to find ways to accommodate those seeking treatment. On the Kenai Peninsula, treatment options are sparse. They’re even more scarce on the southern peninsula, but the gap in service isn’t going unnoticed. There may be more treatment options in the Homer area within the next year.
If you’re suffering from opioid addiction on the southern Kenai Peninsula, the road to sobriety has plenty of barriers. There are no dedicated detox facilities, and the only other option is the emergency room at the South Peninsula Hospital, which can only provide detox assistance if it’s medically necessary.
The Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna, 75 miles away, does plan to open a detox facility in the coming weeks, and it operates a residential treatment program, the only one on the peninsula.
But, other roadblocks, such as transportation and available space, stand in the way of many trying to get clean.
“It’s like a parking lot. You hope you pull into the parking lot as someone is pulling out. Otherwise, there’s not going to be a space for you. The spaces are very limited and they fill up very quickly,” said Jay Bechtol, CEO at South Peninsula Behavioral Health in Homer.
Bechtol took over Behavioral Health, which is not directly associated with the South Peninsula Hospital, in January. Bechtol and his staff would like to help fill some of the gaps in treatment services.
“I think one of the things we’d be looking at is developing a program that would be either an in-patient or an out-patient or a combination rehab program,” he explained.
Currently, Behavioral Health, or The Center as it’s commonly called, does offer intake assessments to anyone who comes through the door. The assessments determine what type of care clients need, but The Center only treats drug or alcohol addiction if it’s a secondary issue to a mental health diagnosis.