Wednesday, January 17, 2007

In the heartland: Not enough heroin detox beds

Peoria, IL: About three years ago, White Oaks treatment center staff began noticing a new population of young people coming in for heroin detox.

It is a predominantly white, middle-class group between the ages of 18 and 25, though there have been clients younger than that. They come from Peoria and also from smaller towns and more rural areas.

Unfortunately, there just aren't enough beds to accommodate the recent surge in heroin use. Entry to the detox unit is generally on a first-come, first-served basis with some restrictions.

Last year at White Oaks, 269 patients - 14 percent of all those admitted - listed heroin as their primary or secondary addiction. Just as many, if not more, were turned away because there just wasn't the room.

There were times when six or seven of the 12 beds were filled with heroin users, and staff had to turn away those with other addictions like alcoholism that also carry serious, and possibly deadly, health issues.

For that reason, the center now tries to limit it to just two or three heroin users admitted at a time.

"Honestly, I feel that if we had 50 beds, we could fill them," said nurse Carol Leckrone, manager of the detox unit. "We have this great need, but this facility is only so big, and we're turning them away." Read full story from the Greater Paramus News.

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