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Treatment efforts key to blunting overdose crisis

St. Joseph News-Press - 9/24/2022

Sep. 24—St. Joseph has seen a spike in drug overdoses during the past two years, elevating the importance of resources to fight addiction.

September is National Recovery Month, which is a time to recognize individuals who are battling and have overcome addiction.

Melissa Ferrill is advocating the importance of addiction recovery after she lost her daughter to a drug overdose in August. Her 20-year-old daughter, Lacey Fanning, passed away at the Buchanan County Jail after overdosing on fentanyl.

"I tried to get Lacey help for almost 10 years," Ferrill said. "I fought, I argued, I begged. I could see she

needed mental help."

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), half of those who experience a mental illness during their lives also will fight a substance use disorder.

"My daughter didn't decide one day to wake up and just do drugs," Ferrill said. "There's a reason she became addicted and this is something we should bring awareness to. No one should have to experience the pain of losing their child, especially to something that can be controlled."

Denovo Recovery Center in St. Joseph helps those fighting a range of addictions by providing them with a facility that can build personalized treatments based upon their type of dependency and its severity. Austin Barnes, the CEO of Denovo, said the center aims to tackle addiction before it spirals.

"We help people recover from substance abuse addictions and mental health addictions," Barnes said. "Our dual-diagnosis facility allows us to treat a variety of things ranging from drug addictions, pornography, food compulsions and other things as long as that addiction is a priority."

Barnes said that 90% of the Denovo staff has been through recovery, which creates a stronger relationship between those offering help and patients.

"Many of us here have been through their journey already," he said. "We've struggled with the things they've struggled with so we want to make that impact and show them there is a different way to live."

The goal, Barnes said, is to get addicts back to health so they can contribute to society.

"We want to help get others back out into the community to function well with their peers," Barnes said. "Our end goal is to shape these individuals to function in a positive manner because that creates a better environment for everyone."

The recovery center makes an effort to follow up with patients for an entire year once they are released from recovery in hopes that they are staying on the right track.

"We've seen a tremendous amount of success," Barnes said. "Of course, success rates are hard to determine in this industry because everyone is going to learn the skills and coping mechanisms to help while they're here but once they're done it's up to them to continue that journey."


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