Opioid epidemic means expansion for treatment center

Published: .
Updated: .

The need for help with the drug epidemic can be seen in a number of ways.

A counseling group in Westerville that treats mental health and substance abuse is breaking ground on a huge expansion.

“My dad went to prison when I was very, very young,” said client Kasandra Greathouse.

Greathouse had a tough start to life. She got pregnant at 16, suffered a number of miscarriages, abused alcohol and wound up suicidal and hospitalized at 19.

“I was diagnosed with multiple mental disorders when I was 5 or 6,” said Greathouse.

She was on and off of medication, in and out of therapy. Home life, she says, was controlling and abusive.

“It got hard to live life and I left home at a very young age,” said Greathouse.

That's when she found Concord Counseling. She entered their young adult transitional program. She now has a job, her own place and she's learning how to live a stable life. Her story is one of the thousands here.

“We’re to critical mass if you ask me,” said Clinical Director Linda Jakes. “We have people sitting on top of people right now.”

People like Greathouse are partly why. The stigma of mental health issues is fading, more people are seeking help. But mental health also relates directly to our nationwide drug crisis.

“The connection between mental health and drug and alcohol addiction, there is such kind of an overlap,” said Jakes.

It's called AOD here, the Alcohol and Other Drugs program.

“A lot of them don’t put together that their mental illness can trigger their substance use or sometimes it’s the other way,” said Social Worker Tiffany Cook.

Treating both areas means expansion at Concord.

“Unfortunately because we don’t have enough staff because we don’t have enough space, we’re having to put people on very large waiting lists,” said Executive Director Connie Emerson.

Concord is adding 5,000 square feet so they can help an extra 1,100 clients annually on top of the 3,600 they already serve. And they're only considered a medium sized facility. Staff says it shows just how great the need is in our community.

“It means I can finally live an independent life and not have to worry about everything and that I’m doing better,” said Greathouse.

Concord Counseling Services is breaking ground Friday. They plan to have the expanded facility ready by January 2018. They will be adding dozens of positions as well.