Recycling is Mindfulness

by Kellie Kroening, TND Intake Specialist and avid baker

Recycling is a mindfulness practice. Maybe you know someone who recycles like it’s their full time job. Maybe you know someone who thinks the whole thing is a joke. Unfortunately, the movement for recycling sometimes get a bad reputation because of the way it’s been presented – for instance, “if you’re not recycling, then you hate animals and the eventual disappearance of the polar ice caps is on you and your empty Dr. Pepper bottles.” (Can we all just agree that harsh and judgmental extremes don’t really help anyone?) If the newest research is true, we have already passed something of a “point of no return” with the climate problems at hand, and it doesn’t just have to do with recycling. There are a myriad of contributing factors. Yet, while we will have to put our heads together in years to come for solutions to this issue, it doesn’t mean we should stop doing what we already know to be important.

The Next Door has recently started a recycling initiative called The Green Team, which I am honored to be involved in. We’re a small group of people who go around the building once weekly to collect recycling and take it to Nashville’s many drop-off centers, in addition to brainstorming ideas of how TND can be more sustainable and focus on how to reduce, reuse, and recycle. However for me, there’s a bigger picture to why I recycle. I’m hoping that as TND participates in the Green Team’s new efforts, the conversation can turn toward mindfulness and how recycling aligns with some of our core values. I believe that recycling actually impacts how we interact with other human beings in the world. Let me tell you why.

When I was in 4th Grade I went to a magically special school called School in the Woods. In the middle of the Black Forest on the Eastern slope of the Rockies in Colorado, there exists a haven for fourth graders where you spend 80% of the school year outside, with the goal of learning how to be a naturalist. A naturalist is a type of biologist who studies the impacts of living species on each other and the environments in which they live. So, a troupe of 10-year-olds including myself spent the year walking around this piece of forest observing, notating, drawing, studying, identifying, counting, quantifying, qualifying, and appreciating the ways that all parts of the earth interconnect and impact all other parts of the earth. This experience was extraordinarily formative for me, and I carry that naturalist heart with me into all facets of my life. As an adult, I came to realize that this is why I was drawn to be a counselor; because counseling is really just naturalism. It is observing, listening, identifying, and appreciating all the ways that each part of someone’s life impacts each part of their own “ecosystem.” How, perhaps, someone’s childhood trauma impacts the beliefs about the self, and how those beliefs impact behaviors, creating gaps in emotional regulation, and how maybe, like for our women and many others, it may result in substance abuse or other dysfunctional coping mechanisms. We can study how the family system can be incredibly resilient even through the harshest blizzards and how the most frozen hearts thaw with enough time spent in the glow of a new sun. Or how when the lightning strikes one too many times, it may set someone’s whole life ablaze. The counseling relationship is there to give witness to all the life and death, growth and change, and to mindfully love the system through the process.

One very important lesson that naturalism taught me was that for the whole ecosystem to be healthy, each part must work in healthful cooperation. This is one of the things that brought me to the Next Door – it attracted me originally because it felt like the sort of place that encourages all parts of the whole to be healthy and to give and take, when needed. For instance, the core values encourage that if we want our women to understand values such as love, respect and community, then we need to also demonstrate love, respect, and community. Health begets health. Love begets love. Respect begets respect. You (be)get the idea.

Which brings me back to recycling. I believe that recycling is a mindfulness practice because for me, when my body makes that habitual motion toward the trash can with something paper, plastic, metal, cardboard etc. in my hand, I pause, and bring my awareness to the moment, instead of mindlessly letting go my waste into some hypothetical landfill. I could throw it away. No one would know. Would it make a difference? Does this one piece of paper or this one straw really matter in the scheme of things? Maybe not. But did you know that every person produces about 4 pounds of waste a day? (Don’t ask me to do the math on that; as you can imagine, School in the Woods didn’t help much with my math issues.) In that momentary pause, I consider that waste begets waste.

So, I mindfully turn my body instead to the little box where I collect recyclables. Because even though I’ll have to make an extra trip, and even though I’m just one person, recycling begets recycling. It is an act of love, and respect, and community because it says “I know that YOU live here too, and for the ecosystem to be healthy, all parts must work in healthful cooperation.” Maybe we are past a point of no return in climate change or melting ice caps but the naturalist in me urges you to believe that we are not past a point of no return within ourselves. It’s what we ask our clients at The Next Door to do every day: to believe that they are not past the point of no return, but that there is still hope that change can happen and that it does matter. Think about the impacts of living species on each other and the environments in which they live, and how that does start with you, within you, sitting at your desk, or standing in your kitchen, practicing mindfulness, and knowing in the grand scheme of things that whether you recycle something to be repurposed or just throw it away, it does matter.

Nashville Public Television Opioids Town Hall

 

As our country grapples with the opioid epidemic, NPT held a public forum about how Middle Tennesseans are dealing with this health crisis, recorded on April 9, 2019, in studio A. Our audience discussed how this substance is affecting communities, families and health systems. Participants included members of the public, addiction experts, medical and public safety professionals. Learn more about NPT Reports: Town Halls at https://www.wnpt.org/town-hall/

Rx Summit Spotlight: Blending Faith and Science a Winning Combination

Even amid a crippling opioid crisis, medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder remains highly controversial in the state where April Barnes, RN, works. At this month’s Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, the outreach director at Nashville, Tenn.-based The Next Door will argue for a treatment approach that fully integrates physical, emotional and spiritual components.

“Many other ministries have great programs but don’t have medication,” Barnes tells Addiction Professional. “We’ve had difficult situations where it’s hard to find a placement for a patient, because at many facilities the patient can’t be on medication.”

At her April 25 workshop session at the Atlanta conference, Barnes will outline how the faith-based treatment organization where she works has moved in a different direction from some similar programs. The Next Door was launched 15 years ago as a halfway house for women reintegrating into the community from incarceration, and has grown into a multi-level treatment provider at a time when the opioid epidemic was intensifying in the state and nationally.

“We’ve always been about adapting to what the greatest need is in the community,” says Barnes, who formerly served as director of admissions and business development at The Next Door. “With the number of overdoses that were occurring, that’s when it went from strictly re-entry into treatment. We’ve been learning and growing over the last five years.”

Chronic illness factor

Barnes sees the role of medication treatment for opioid use disorder in the same way she views medication for type 2 diabetes: an essential component but not the cure-all. Medications such as buprenorphine can keep the patient alive and engaged so that there is time for the other elements of comprehensive treatment to have an effect, the logic goes.

“You’re not going to achieve complete healing unless you have all of the components,” Barnes says, referring to the physical, emotional and spiritual. “All these areas of human life are interconnected.”

That is not an attitude universally put into practice in faith-based programs, however, she suggests. Barnes will discuss in her session how The Next Door’s perspective has evolved over the years.

“Even within our own facility, we were for years abstinence-based,” she says. “This took some time even for our leadership, for our team, to stop moralizing it.”

The Next Door has inpatient capacity for 82 female patients (12 detox beds and 70 residential beds). It is now adding to its outpatient offerings a recovery care clinic where medication-assisted treatment will be at the core of programming.

Buprenorphine and extended-release naltrexone are both available to patients in programs at The Next Door. The organization has a diverse payer mix that includes both public and private insurance sources.

Barnes says she still sees a great need for community education on the importance of comprehensive, integrated treatment. “When I tell people we’re a faith-based program, they often say, ‘Oh, you must not prescribe,’” she says. “We absolutely believe in the power of prayer, but we also believe in science.”

The Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, April 22-25 in Atlanta, is where solutions are formulated, stakeholders from Federal to family convene, and change begins. It is the annual gathering for stakeholders to discuss what’s working in prevention and treatment. For more information, visit rx-summit.com

 

https://www.addictionpro.com/article/rx-summit-spotlight-blending-faith-and-science-winning-combination

WKRN Nashville – Decoding the Fentanyl Formula

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – There are two types of opioids: naturally-occurring and synthetic. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid.

Dr. Michael Ferri, medical director at Next Door, explained further, There are naturally occurring opioids like morphine, which comes out of the poppy plant, the tar of the poppy pod. There are semi-synthetic ones like hydrocodone, oxycodone, which are derivatives of the naturally occurring poppy product, and then there are synthetic products, which are made to look just like the naturally-occurring opioids. For instance, fentanyl was invented in the 60s by a pharmacologist called Jansen.

According to the State Medical Examiner’s office, there were 103 fentanyl-related deaths in 2016. That number grew to 180 in 2017.

In 2018, there were at least 346, but the state is still waiting for more data to complete the report.

A similar trend can be seen in Davidson County. The Health Department reports 60 fentanyl-related deaths in 2016, 105 in 2017, at least 174 in 2018, and so far in 2019, 15.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine reports the full chemical formula for fentanyl is  N-(1-(2-phenethyl)-4-piperidinyl-N-phenyl-propanamide. However, creators use different derivatives which can increase the drug’s potency.

Dr. Ferri said it’s unpredictable, Even the dealers have had a hard time cutting into a batch of heroin. Because it just takes a few grains to bring the potency up dramatically. He adds the man-made drug can be 100 times more potent than naturally occurring opioids.

“It turns out that fentanyl is much more lipophilic, so it goes through the blood-brain barrier much easier than other, more naturally-occurring opioids,” Ferri added, So that means higher concentrations right off the bat get into the brain. And when this molecule is floating around, and it meets the opiate receptor, it’s much more sticky on that receptor, and it induces a response to the nerve in a more effective way.

See the impact fentanyl is having, as News 2 investigates the so-called Third Wave of the opioid crisis. We have special reports all day Thursday, in every newscast.

Join in on the discussion during our live town hall meeting at 6:30 pm on News 2.

 

https://www.wkrn.com/special-reports/opioid-crisis/decoding-the-fentanyl-formula/1881980283

WKRN Nashville – Fentanyl’s Potency Creates Hurdle in Fighting Opioid Overdoses

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Overdose deaths are skyrocketing across the country from synthetic opioids.

According to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention, much of the overdoses stem from illicitly-manufactured fentanyl, a synthetic opioid health experts call dangerously potent.

A woman, News 2 is naming Sarah out of confidentiality, knows this all too well.

What began as a way to treat pain after a visit to the dentist, evolved into a 25-year addiction to opioids.

Some of that, Sarah said, was laced with illicit fentanyl.

News 2 was there on a big day on her road to recovery.

After almost 25 days in rehab at The Next Door in West Nashville, Sarah packed up her past.

“I feel much better emotionally, physically,” said Sarah. “I don’t want to get up ever again and have to do some type of drug to make myself feel better or get off sick.”

Sarah’s departure from the recovery center means she’s preparing for the next big test in beating her opioid addiction.

“Mainly I want to see my son get off the bus and squeeze him real tight,” she said. “The temptations are out there so I am a little nervous about that, but I also think I’m in the perfect spot or set up for success from here on out. It’s just me and my will power.”

For recovering opioid addicts like Sarah, the test lies in overcoming the need for the high that comes with drugs like heroin – the danger, lying in the unknown.

“The bottom is ultimately dying and that’s what’s going on right now is the fentanyl being mixed with stuff and if you don’t end up dying, you’re pretty darn close to it,” said Sarah.

“Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, so it’s in the same family of morphine and heroin and demerol and all the opioids,” said Dr. Michael Ferri at The Next Door. “What makes it sort of unique is that it’s incredibly potent.”

Dr. Ferri said the danger comes from how quickly fentanyl can get to the brain to give users that high.

“It turns out that fentanyl and its derivatives are one of the most potent molecules to bind the opioid receptor, which is responsible for anesthesia and pain, but also for respiratory depression which is what can kill people,” said Dr. Ferri.

That bind is so tight, it can make it hard for life-saving Narcan to reverse an overdose.

“Fentanyl binds much, much more tightly. It’s much more potent and it’s more sticky at that receptor site,” said Dr. Ferri. “So a dose of Narcan may not be enough to push off that fentanyl.”

For comparison, fentanyl is roughly 100-times more potent than morphine, a naturally-occurring opioid.

Just a couple of grains of fentanyl would be enough to kill the average person.

The potency has drug dealers cashing in.

“People are cutting the heroin with the fentanyl just to make it stretch,” said Sarah.

“At a certain point, buying Oxy, things like that off the street becomes too expensive,” said Dr. Ferri. “And that’s where the fentanyl comes in. The drug dealers can cut that fentanyl to make it cheaper for them to make it a more potent product.”

Sarah said she’s had close calls with fentanyl-laced heroin.

“Luckily, I’ve been fortunate you know,” said Sarah. “But yeah, that’s the bad part is nobody knows what’s in there and I know overdoses are on the rise, because I’ve lost several friends to it.”

But Sarah said she’s determined not to let that happen – for herself, her family, and especially her son.

“I’m looking forward to being a much happier mom and I was an involved mom before, but I want to be a more involved mom,” said Sarah.

Sarah added this is her second effort to get clean and hopes it’ll be her last.

She said she’ll be continuing her recovery with four days a week of intensive outpatient treatment at The Next Door.

 

https://www.wkrn.com/news/special-reports/fentanyl-s-potency-creates-hurdle-in-fighting-opioid-overdoses/1880472600

WKRN Nashville – The F Word: Fentanyl Emerging as a Scourge Across Tennessee

MIDDLE TENNESSEE (WKRN) – Danny Schaeffer is in the business of dealing with bad things. Fentanyl is one of them.

Schaeffer is the EMS director in Cheatham County, which is feeling the impact of the synthetic opioid. “We’ve had three confirmed deaths this year off of fentanyl,” he told News 2 recently. “If a patient still has a needle stuck in their arm, chances are it is fentanyl because we know how deadly it is,” he added.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls it the third wave of the opioid crisis. This past week, the agency laid out staggering numbers regarding fentanyl-related deaths. Just five years ago, fatal incidents began to double each year. The drug was involved in 4,223 deaths in 2014. That number reached 8,251 in 2015. And in 2016, fentanyl-related deaths grew to 18,335.

Schaeffer says fentanyl deaths in Cheatham County jumped from zero in 2017 to ten in 2018. Alarming stats. And nothing to be proud of for sure, he added.

Dr. Michael Ferri is a psychiatrist and addiction specialist at The Next Door, a Nashville drug addiction treatment center. He explained a typical path that can lead addicts, knowingly or unknowingly, into the world of fentanyl.

For the vast majority of Americans who become addicted to opioids, they start with pain pills. And pain pills are available everywhere, Ferri told us. But once a person is hooked on pain pills, then they try to obtain more and in higher doses. And at a certain point, buying oxy (oxycontin)… things like that… off the street becomes too expensive, whereas powder heroin is available too at a much cheaper price and for a better high. And that’s then where the fentanyl comes in. The drug dealers can cut that fentanyl to make it cheaper for them to make it a more potent product.

The Drug Enforcement Administration website shows that fentanyl was first developed in 1959 and introduced in the 1960s as an intravenous anesthetic. It is legally manufactured and distributed in the United States.

But illegal fentanyl is cheap to produce, with operations in Mexico and Asia funneling it into the country. Last year, authorities arrested a woman at the Nashville International Airport whose luggage contained nearly one-million doses of fentanyl. 22-year-old Reem Ibrahim told police she was promised $1,000 to deliver the luggage here.

According to the DEA, fentanyl can be injected, snorted, smoked, taken by pill or tablet, and spiked onto blotter paper. It is approximately 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin as an analgesic.

“Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, so it’s in the same family of morphine and heroin and Demerol and all theopioids.” Ferri added. What makes it sort of unique is that it’s incredibly potent and
even a small amount of it can stimulate the opioid receptors in a person’s body far more, up to 100 more times than morphine and heroin can.

Concerns about the potency of fentanyl have first responders on edge. Last month, Metro officers were at an apartment on Hillsboro Pike when someone in the residence tried to flush a large bag of white powder down the toilet. When an officer tried to stop him, the bag ripped open and sprayed the officer in the face. The substance tested positive for heroin and when the officer became nauseous, he was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for treatment out of concern he could have been exposed to fentanyl.

Agents with the 18th Judicial Drug Task Force, which operates primarily in Sumner County, have become so concerned they’ve put safety steps in place that include respirators and protective clothing to deal with potential exposure.

Task force director Kelly Murphy told News 2’s Andy Cordan that an amount equal to five individual grains of table salt can overcome a human’s respiratory system. Extra precautions are taken after evidence is collected. Double-bagging with warnings are the order of the day.

Americans are now more likely to die from a drug overdose than a car accident. In 2017, drug overdoses killed more than 70,000 people. Opioids, including fentanyl, are the leading driver.

We continue to respond to the overdose calls and support programs for people who are addicts of prescription medications and street drugs, Schaeffer says. Yes, these numbers are actual people and it’s hard for us to keep going to people’s families and telling them their loved ones are dead because they overdosed.

News 2 is investigating the impact of fentanyl across Middle Tennessee. We have special reports all day Thursday in every newscast. You can also join in on the discussion during a live town hall meeting airing at6:30 p.m. on News 2.

 

https://www.wkrn.com/news/the-f-word-fentanyl-emerging-as-a-scourge-across-tennessee/1872393668

FOXCARES – March 2019’s Non-Profit – The Next Door

A new month means a new FOXCARES partnership! As always, if you book your move with Fox Moving and Storage, we will contribute $10 from your move to a Nashville local non-profit. This month, Fox Moving and Storage is thrilled to announce our community giving partnership with The Next Door.  The Next Door’s mission is to provide a continuum of evidence-based services for women and their families impacted by addiction, mental illness, trauma and/or incarceration with Christ-centered compassionate care. The Next Door began in 2004 and will be celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2019!

We’ll be donating $10 of EVERY March move directly to The Next Door!

The Next Door (TND) operates the Freedom Recovery Community, affordable and permanent housing for women in recovery and their families, in Nashville and the Correctional Release Center, re-entry, addiction, and trauma services for women in the last 18 months of their prison sentences, located in Chattanooga, TN. TND’s headquarters and Nashville facility houses its treatment programming.

Levels of addiction treatment care at TND – Nashville include a 24-hour, medically-monitored detoxification unit for clients, including pregnant women; residential treatment, an inpatient level of care; a partial-hospitalization program, an outpatient level of care that focuses on women with mental health co-occurring diagnoses; and an intensive outpatient program, which provides continued therapy and other services in a less-structured environment four days a week.

TND seeks to make treatment accessible to all women. If a client’s treatment team determines she needs treatment days beyond what insurance is willing to cover, she is not discharged from care; instead, TND continues to provide life-saving treatment. The majority of current TND clients, 91%, have insurance that covers less than 40% of the cost of treatment or no insurance. The Next Door had the honor of serving 1,442 individual women in all programs in 2017 with treatment programs serving 1,047 of those women.

In 2017, the Tennessee Department of Health reported that 1,776 men and women died of drug overdoses.

The effects of addiction ripple throughout the families and communities of those struggling with substance use disorders and accessible treatment care is vital to helping the community begin to manage the effects of the opioid crisis on the citizens of Tennessee.

FOXCARES is happy to be able to partner with The Next Door to assist them as they provide needed addiction treatment to women in need in the Middle Tennessee community. Every woman who completes treatment at The Next Door is another potential life saved and another mother, sister, wife, child who returns to her family and community with hope for the future and tools to manage her struggle with addiction.

Book your March move with Fox Moving and Storage and help us to help The Next Door!

 

 

News Channel 5 Nashville – New Mothers Battling Addiction Avoid Opiates After Birth

 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Battling opioid addiction is tough enough. It can be even harder for a pregnant woman.

The Next Door is an organization that helps women, pregnant or not, battle their addiction to opiates.

For the most part, avoiding painkillers is the only option to continue recovery even after birth. Director of Nursing Nita Chester said the center is big on using anti-inflammatory medicine to treat post-surgery pain.

“Anti-inflammatory drugs are huge because they’re not mood altering and there’s no dependency,” Chester told NewsChannel 5. “The opioids just keep your brain from getting that pain signal while anti-inflammatory help ease that and the pain.”

The center currently has ten pregnant women in its facility. The team works closely with their physicians to assure a non-opioid treatment.

“If there is an opioid issue, the doctor typically doesn’t want to send them home because there’s fear of abusing them,” Chester added.

After birth, the women can return to the facility where there is medical care and close supervision. Chester said there has not been any complaints for the most part.

If for some reason they have to use an opioid, they are paired with an accountability partner.

Director of Outreach April Barnes also provides information on holistic approaches to treating pain.

“We talked about holistic healing, holistic therapies, and how to support your body in early recovery. We talked about essential oils and nutrients that you can get through your diet that can help reduction of inflammation,” Barnes said.

Barnes included that the women who take part are intrigued in exploring new options.

“The mind is a powerful thing. If you can just provide someone with hope during their experience here with you,” Barnes said.

If you or someone you know needs help, you can call The Next Door at 855-863-4673.

 

https://www.newschannel5.com/news/new-mothers-battling-addiction-avoid-opiates-after-birth

Fox 17 – Secreatary Ben Carson Visits Nashville Recovery Center for Women, Discusses Opioid Crisis

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson made a stop in Music City Thursday to discuss the opioid crisis and the importance of treatment facilities for those who need it most.

Carson toured the Next Door Recovery Center in Nashville and participated in a round table with health care providers.

“This establishment has recognized that it’s not just a matter of a detoxification program, but it’s a matter of filling in that void that created the desire, the need for the opioids in the first place,” Carson said.

Carson also heard the story of Melissa Newman-Brewer, who completed both inpatient and outpatient treatment at Next Door.

She said she’s struggled with addiction for most of her life.

“It started off like a binging thing, like a weekend thing, but then I started craving it more and wanted it more, and it just took over my life,” Newman-Brewer said.

After years of bouncing back and forth between recovery and drug use, she celebrated nine clean years. But two spinal surgeries and a legal opioid prescription later, and this mother once again found herself in the grips of addiction.

“Never thought in a million years that would be me, because again, pain pills, opioids are not my thing, but it sneaks up on you,” Newman-Brewer said.

She said she lost everything, including custody of her then 8-year-old son Brycen. That’s when she said she made the decision that saved her life.

“If I wouldn’t have made that phone call sitting in that living room, and I can remember it like it was yesterday, to go to the Next Door, I wouldn’t be here today,” she said.

Newman-Brewer said recovery was anything but easy.

“You have to face what you’ve done,” Newman-Brewer said. “You have to face that. You have to sit there and grieve what you’ve done to your kids, what you’ve done to your home, what you’ve done to other people, and you don’t want to face that, and that’s why people keep using.”

Thursday, as she shared her story with Secretary Ben Carson during his tour of the center, Newman-Brewer said she hasn’t used drugs in 18 months. She also has custody of her son again, a full time job, and an apartment in a HUD-funded building.

Casey Conway works at  Addiction Campuses and has gone to treatment for alcohol abuse twice.

“You finally have to just say, you know what, I can’t do this on my own. I need help, I need an expert, I need something, because what I’m doing is not working,” Conway said.

He encourages people to get help, regardless of the stigma against drug and alcohol addiction.

“Know that there is a solution, there is a way that you can get better,” Conway said.

“There’s plenty of help out there,” Newman-Brewer said. “You just have to ask for it.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, opioids were involved in more than 42,000 deaths in 2016, which is more than 66% of all drug overdose deaths that year.

Find a full list of available recovery support services and resources for treatment here.

https://fox17.com/news/local/secretary-ben-carson-visits-nashville-recovery-center-for-women-discusses-opioid-crisis

 

 

The Tennessee Tribune – HUD Secretary Ben Carson Comes to Nashville

NASHVILLE, TN – Last week Congress passed the $3.3 billion Support for Patients and Communities Act to address the national opioid crisis. The day after it passed, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson visited The Next Door Recovery Center in Nashville. 

In 2017, 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, the highest number ever.

The federal Centers for Disease Control say 47,500 of those deaths involved opioids. A parallel to the current crisis is the AIDS epidemic which killed 50,000 in the U.S in 1995, the highest number in any year. So opioids are killing more people than AIDs ever did and the killing is not nearly over. It hasn’t even slowed down.

Carson toured the facility on 22nd  Ave where 82 women are in recovery, many from addiction to pills. Melissa Newman-Brewer sat next to Carson on a couch and told him after staying clean for nine years she had a relapse and re-entered the program. “Are you clean now?” Carson asked her. “Eighteen months” she said. 

When women come to The Next Door they “roll in on two wheels” and the staff is like a MASH unit. Withdrawal takes three days and the detox unit can handle a dozen patients. After that recovery starts with seventy other women who get residential care and live in two-person dorm rooms. They get a variety of services and therapy. There are 21 units of affordable housing across the alley where women can reintegrate, find jobs, and rejoin their families. 

The treatment program delivers medical and mental health services and relies heavily on the 12-step recovery program. There is a chapel and it is used by individuals and groups.

“The thing that is most import is the continuum of care. Even after they complete detoxification, you still need a support system,” Carson said. He said he wanted to come visit The Next Door because of its reputation as a place that recognizes that.

“I’m always thrilled to see people who are willing to sacrifice themselves to make sure that life is better for other people,” he said.  

The 1,500 women who find help at The Next Door are lucky. The center has an $8 million budget. About $750,000 comes from federal programs and HUD gives about $100,000 annually. Four and a half million comes from Medicaid, Medicare, TennCare and other medical insurance. The remaining $2.5 million of the operating budget comes from private donations.

Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control say the necessary amount to really treat opioid addiction is $78.5 billion a year. A measly $3.3 billion will not stem the tsunami of opioid overdose deaths. At that level of cure, some estimates predict that hundreds of thousands more will die in the next decade.

Addiction experts say just throwing money at the problem won’t fix it either. According to Sarah Wakeman, an addiction specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital, most addiction treatment programs don’t treat addicts like a patient with a chronic disease, yet that is what they have. She said the country must mount a campaign on a par with our response to HIV/AIDS.  “It will require a massive infusion of funding and a fundamental restructuring of how we treat addiction in this country,” Wakeman said.