CLINTON — The Area Substance Abuse Council is increasing staffing at its New Directions location due to an increased demand in services.

The Area Substance Abuse Council is a full-service substance use treatment organization, ASAC Executive Director Jeannette Archer-Simons said. At New Directions, they deliver outpatient substance use treatment for individuals seeking substance use treatment, she said. The substance use treatment can range from alcohol and methamphetamine to opioids and other substances, she said.

Medication assistance treatment is provided at New Directions and in partnership with MercyOne, Archer-Simons said. ASAC offers residential treatment programs for women and children and a halfway house for men in recovery, she said.

ASAC has recently seen an increase in individuals asking for help, Archer-Simons said.

“We think people self-medicated during some of the isolation of COVID,” Archer-Simons said. “And as a result, we’ve had a tremendous growth in demand for services. And we’re actually expanding out staff at our building in New Directions to support that.”

A big part of services offered by ASAC is prevention and community awareness, Archer-Simons said. They are utilizing a multiple aspect approach, including using social media more to inform children about the dangers of substances and stressing that just because a substance is prescribed for someone to use does not mean it is safe to take more than what is prescribed or take a substance prescribed for someone else, she said. ASAC has always had a great partnership with the school system to educate, she said.

Individuals can obtain assistance through ASAC by referral or also by walking into the facility seeking assistance, Archer-Simons said. They work with multiple partners, and referrals could come from a health system, law enforcement or by a court system, she said. Individuals can also walk in for support, she said.

Treatment services are very individualized, Archer-Simons stressed. The core treatment model utilized at ASAC is cognitive behavioral therapy but they strive to adapt to the preferences of the individual they are serving, she said.

“The individuals will talk about what their treatment plan’s going to look like with their counselor and work on that individual treatment plan,” Archer-Simons said. “So maybe one person prefers journaling about their journey and talking about the struggles and then bringing that in for the counselor. Maybe another person just wants to talk about it. And so it really is identifying what the triggers are for the individual. Identifying the best treatment combination for the individual. And working with them around both their schedule and to deliver the treatment that’s going to be meaningful for them.”

ASAC has had to adjust and evolve over the years to meet the changing landscape of substance use in the community, Archer-Simons said. Alcohol continues to be the largest substance people are trying to recover from and methamphetamine is second on the list, she said. However, opioid use in patients more than doubled last year, which is in alignment with statewide trends, she said.

Archer-Simons said ASAC is hiring because of the increased need for services in the community.

“I guess the good news is that we’re a growing business in the community and we’re looking to add more people,” Archer-Simons said. “That hard part is that it also means there’s a greater demand for our services.”

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