A certified alcohol and drug Treatment program since 1985, Gateway to Prevention & Recovery has offered outpatient counseling to individuals annually through its offices in Shawnee and Chandler; an office is opening in Seminole on Monday. Gateway's Clinical Director Cindy Stober said a recent grant is helping the nonprofit offer its services to more clients.

THE ISSUE: Oklahoma remains above the national average for substance use dependence/abuse. Pottawatomie County is listed among the top 10 worst Oklahoma counties.

LOCAL IMPACT: A grant awarded to Gateway this year will allow the nonprofit to help more clients receive longterm treatment.

A certified alcohol and drug Treatment program since 1985, Gateway to Prevention & Recovery has offered outpatient counseling to individuals annually through its offices in Shawnee and Chandler; an office is opening in Seminole on Monday.

Gateway's Clinical Director Cindy Stober said a recent grant is helping the nonprofit offer its services to more clients.

She said Gateway was awarded Oklahoma Medication Assisted Treatment (OMAT) grant money through Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services at the end of 2016.

The grant awarded was in the amount of $62,500 for service and $12,500 for medication, Stober said. This is the first time Gateway has received the grant.

She said the purpose of the OMAT is to significantly enhance access to medication assisted treatment in Oklahoma for individuals with opioid-use disorders and who reside in the ten highest risk communities: Oklahoma, Tulsa, Carter, Muskogee, Creek, Cleveland, Stephens, Jefferson, Pontotoc, Pottawatomie.

“The grant allows us to admit people for treatment services that meet criteria for opioid dependence and are good candidates for medication assisted treatment,” she said. “The treatment services and medication are covered with the grant money.”

Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), one of the centers that carries out the mission of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSHSA) provides funding for the project/study, provides guidelines for the project/study, requires data entry of participant's date and requires reporting from project staff, she said.

Adults who qualify, Stober said, are those who have an opioid-use disorder, live in one of the 10 high-risk communities and are below the 200 percent federal poverty level with no other payor sources.

Gateway did 1,069 assessments and admitted 966 patients to treatment last year, Stober said.

She said Gateway served a total of 2,512.

“The number of additional people (served because of the grant) would be around 20-30, depending on their level of engagement,” she said, “because medication-assisted treatment is more intensive.”

For opioid dependence, she said, the treatment that has the best outcomes is medication-assisted treatment with longterm treatment combined.

“Either of those without the other has significantly lower success rates,” Stober said.

Commissioner Terri White, Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, addressed local supporters of Gateway to Prevention and Recovery in Shawnee, sharing data and detailing the importance of the nonprofit's work in the area.

White said society treats diseases of the brain differently than all other health/medical issues.

“There's still a stigma attached to mental illness, addiction and substance abuse. The stigma needs to be broken,” she said. “It doesn't encourage many to come forward for the help they need.”

She said society doesn't fault those with recurring bouts of asthma or diabetes — labeling them failures like is often the case with mental illnesses.

Thing is, people who battle these brain diseases have a higher rate of recovery than many with other health issues, she said.

“Mental illness and addiction are diagnosable, treatable medical conditions,” she said. “Thousands recover every day when they access appropriate care.”

In his report on alcohol, drugs and health released in November, U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy said the addiction crisis is one of America's most pressing public health problems.

He said nearly 21 million Americans suffer from a substance use disorder, yet only one in 10 receives any type of treatment.

Oklahoma is one of the least healthy states in the nation, White said.

According to her report, Oklahoma remains above the national average for substance use dependence/abuse — as it does for many other health-related issues.

“All those numbers would go down if we could just address and improve brain health. It all starts with that.”

White said between 700,000 and 950,000 adult Oklahomans are in need of services for diseases of the brain.

“In FY 2016, ODMHSAS provided treatment services to 195,000,” she said.

Some of the findings White reported for Pottawatomie County were:

• Regarding mental health, of the approximately 9,982 adults who experienced symptoms of “any mental illness” over the past year, in FY 2016, 1,862 received services (through state-funded facilities).

• Nearly 3,456 youth have a mental health disorder; in FY 2016, 1,773 received services.

• Approximately 4,181 adults need substance abuse treatment services; in FY 2016, 2,447 received services.

• An estimated 702 youth need substance abuse treatment; in FY 2016, only 132 received services.

• The top drugs of choice reported by residents who were admitted into addiction treatment services in FY 2016 were: Methamphetamine (30 percent); Alcohol (24 percent); Marijuana/Hashish (22 percent); and Opiates/Heroin (19 percent). White said opioid abuse has been been a fast-growing problem in recent years.

Patient care

Stober said a new service for Gateway is providing is pain management services in its private clinic.

“We only accept payment up front and we do not prescribe the schedule 11 narcotics which are the opiate-based drugs that so many problems are from,” she said.

Gateway also is a distribution site for free Narcan Kits for persons under age 18 who are at risk of overdose from opioids.

“A family member or friend may pick one of these up at the 45th street office,” Stober said.

There are other services available at the clinic, as well.

Gateway offers treatment services for gambling disorders free of charge, Stober said.

“Gateways has Nationally Certified Gambling Counselors and is a certified gambling treatment program which has been providing services for more than 10 years,” she said. Gateway offers services for adolescents and their families at no cost to the family.

Other contracts Gateway holds with the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse allow persons who are below the 200 percent federal poverty level with no other payor source to receive services with a minimal copay.

“Gateway also contracts with Medicaid and the primary insurances in Oklahoma as well as a sliding fee scale for those who do not meet the requirements for those contracts,” she said.

Gateway history

According to the nonprofit's website, Gateway to Prevention & Recovery started as a group of local, concerned citizens coming together as a result of watching two Chemical People television specials in the 1980s. These citizens sustained a planning group in an effort to pave the way for addiction treatment services to be offered in their community. Gateway was initially named the DARE program of Shawnee. In 1985, DARE secured its 501c3 non-profit status; hired its first professional staff member; and received a foundation grant for operating capital. Through efforts from the board of directors, private donations, the Shawnee Noon Day Lion’s Club and United Way, funding was acquired to start providing addiction treatment services to the community.

To learn more

Gateway to Prevention and Recovery has multiple programs that include education, prevention activities, support, case management and treatment for individuals who live with behavioral health illnesses in their lives.

Stober said Gateway staff consists of Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Alcohol Drug Counselors, Case Managers, PEER recovery support specialists. Experience of staff starts at 30 years in this field with numerous longterm staff.

Gateway provides services on a walk-in basis on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Thursdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. to noon.

Gateway's Shawnee office is at 1010 E. 45th St. For more information call (405) 273-1170 or visit gatewaytoprevention.org.

The nonprofit's office in Chandler is at 710 Manvel Ave. To reach the Chandler office, call (405) 240-5333.

You can reach Vicky O. Misa at (405) 214-3962.