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New outpatient program helps addicts in our area stay clean after detox

A new outpatient program helps addicts in our area stay clean after detox. // WSBT 22 photo

There are new services helping addicts in our area stay clean after detox.

Michiana Behavioral Health in Plymouth has just started offering an intensive outpatient program. Leaders there say they are responding to a need in the community.

“I’m an alcoholic, I’ll say it,” said Mark Brunette.

The 62-year-old has battled alcoholism for years. His lowest point came just three months ago.

“I was homeless for a while,” said Brunette. “I ended up behind a liquor store in Valparaiso trying to drink myself to death basically. A gentleman walked by and he said do you need any help. I had cut my head and I was bleeding and I said ‘Yes, please call an ambulance. I don’t want to live anymore.’”

Brunette was sent to Michiana Behavioral Health to detox.

Brunette has tried to stay clean before, but he says this time it's different. After he got clean he started attending the new Intensive Outpatient Program at Michiana Behavioral Health.

“I needed the kindness,” said Brunette, “No one judged me. It made a world of difference.”

Michiana Behavioral Health is the only medically-managed inpatient detox program in our area. They noticed patients were getting clean but not finding success with the services in the community after that. So they started their own program.

Social Worker Athena Soleim runs the new program.

“We had identified that our patients that didn’t have access to as many programs as thought after discharge and they were having trouble with compliance after detoxing. So we wanted a setting that was familiar and more home-like and we created IOP here at Michiana,” said Soleim.

There are other IOPs out there but this offers patients a different, smaller option. The program, which started in June, averages about eight to 12 patients. They must go 21 times over the course of several weeks. The program uses Dialectical Behavior Therapy which focuses on the patients’ emotions and relationships.

“Addictions are very emotional-based, so with our patients we teach them how to get through those initial emotions when their chance for relapse is highest – right at the beginning,” said Soleim. “So we will teach them how to effectively handle their emotions, deal with stress, deal with any anxiety they may be feeling. Work through those emotions in a healthy way and be able to cope with daily life challenges.”

The patients focus on living “in the here and now.” They use meditation, visualization, body scan and imagery to help connect to the present moment.

Michiana Behavioral Health also started a partnership with life Treatment Centers. It allows patients, like Brunette, a safe place to live while they attend the program.

Brunetter says he got a lot out of the program and has faith he will succeed in sobriety this time.

“I’m not alone,” said Brunette. “People do care about me. Cause you give up on yourself. You really give up.”

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