Team joins together to discuss issues with drug addiction in Jackson County

‘Recovery is possible’

Nancy Franke watched helplessly as her elderly mother became addicted to prescription pain medication.

Jackie Crane has watched her son battle heroin addiction and almost die from an overdose.

Michelle Hallett moved away from Seymour to Arizona to get the help she needed to deal with trauma and kick her meth addiction.

Matt Nicholson has seen too many kids that hang out at his bike and skate shop go down the path of drugs.

These are just a few of the stories from local residents who are coming together in a grassroots effort to do more than just talk about Jackson County’s drug problem.

The newly formed Jackson County Drug Awareness and Action Team is setting goals and coming up with ideas and plans for how to move people and the community from addiction to recovery and to change public opinion on who does drugs and why.

Hallett said instead of punishing those with addictions, the community needs to reach out and help them.

“We can be a recovery community,” she said. “But there has to be hope.”

Chris Abert from Indiana Recovery Alliance recently shared information with the group and indicated that Jackson County is most “at-risk” for an HIV and hepatitis C outbreak because of its proximity to Scott County, just 15 miles south of Seymour.

As of February 2017, 217 cases of HIV had been reported in Scott County, which in 2015 was the center of the country’s single-largest outbreak of HIV and hepatitis C among persons who inject drugs.

The Jackson County Drug Awareness and Action Team’s first item of action is to offer free, quick, confidential HIV and hepatitis C testing and distribute free naloxone kits to any resident. Naloxone is used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

The event will take place on National HIV Testing Day from 5 to 7 p.m. June 27 at Peace Lutheran Church, 330 W. Tipton St., Seymour. Those who are tested will get their results back before they leave. The church also will be serving a free community meal that evening.

“People need to know their HIV and hepatitis C status so that they can get the care and treatment they need, and the only way to know is to get tested,” said Crane, a Seymour resident who works as a public health nurse in Scott County. “If you’ve never had an HIV test in your life, it’s time to have one.”

Crane said she sees Jackson County residents coming to Scott County to be tested and receive treatment and services on a regular basis.

The drug action team also is looking to bring community agencies together in one location once a month or more in a One Stop Shop for a variety of services people may need to help get back on their feet. The idea for the One Stop Shop is similar to what was started in Austin after the HIV outbreak there.

Services available would include being able to obtain important documents such as a birth certificate and state-issued identification, assistance registering for health insurance, information on continuing education, workforce development, job searches, counseling and more.

Another area the action team hopes to make a difference in is bringing all organizations and partners together to the table, including the health department, local law enforcement, city and county government, the drug-free council, United Way and others, to work on implementing action items.

“We need to be in communication with each other to truly address the issues and help those in need,” Franke said.

The group would like to see a recovery coach program started in Jackson County to pair those who have been successful in recovery with those who are currently addicted and a treatment facility for women. Currently, Jackson County has one detox and transitional housing facility, Todd’s Place, but it only serves men at this time.

Because it takes roughly two years for addicts to go through a full recovery program, there needs to be better supports in place in the county, Hallett said.

“I think there needs to be awareness and community involvement,” she said. “There’s got to be access to be able to get to treatment and then places to stay afterwards. Maybe there would be more people reaching out if they didn’t feel like there was a threat.”

Hallett suggested a drug addiction awareness and recovery walk be conducted in Jackson County.

“Recovery is possible,” she said.

If you go

Jackson County Drug Awareness and Action Team will offer free and quick HIV and hepatitis C testing and distribute free naloxone kits to any resident. Naloxone is used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

The event will take place on National HIV Testing Day from 5 to 7 p.m. June 27 at Peace Lutheran Church, 330 W. Tipton St., Seymour. Those who are tested will get their results back before they leave. The church also will be serving a free community meal that evening.

The Jackson County Health Department, 801 W. Second St., Seymour, is offering free HIV and hepatitis C testing from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Testing is confidential, and those tested will receive their results in around 20 minutes.

Other services

The health department also has added an on-site insurance navigator to help people discuss options for and obtain health insurance. The navigator is available from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays.

Free naloxone kits and training on how to use the medication are available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursdays. In order to receive the naloxone from the health department, people must make an appointment to go through the training. To schedule naloxone training, call 812-522-6474.

At a glance

Anyone interested in being a part of the Jackson County Drug Awareness and Action Team may email Nancy Franke at nancy.franke@ymail.com or Jackie Crane at jackie4914@gmail.com.

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.