“Just in a six-month time period, I lost everything,” said Kim Smith, Carlisle resident and patient at the Paris branch of Brightview addiction treatment.
Ten years ago, a car accident shattered Smith’s right knee and hip.
“Pretty much my right side got crushed,” Smith said.
Like many in her situation, she started taking painkillers. Then she became addicted.
She sought treatment at several facilities, all of which dispensed buprenorphine, an opioid-based medication for treating narcotic dependence that’s known more commonly by its brand name, Suboxone.
Her first three to four years of treatment were characterized by a sort of languid stagnation, Smith said. Suboxone seemed to be the only thing motivating her to go to treatment.
“I did what I had to do,” she said. “Just to make sure I had my Suboxone. You didn’t feel like you was doing better. You didn’t feel like you was doing worse. You was just doing.”
Still, she’d met a group of treatment professionals she liked and eventually followed them when they moved to the Paris Brightview facility, where, finally, her treatment began to improve.
“People at Brightview across all of our states, they have some connection to addiction,” said David McDonald Jr., Brightview’s public relations manager, during a tour he gave LINK nky of the new facility in Covington, which opened on Monday. “My parents both went through it, and I had a cousin that passed after an overdose.”
It’s a story that’s all too common.
in 2021, 106,699 people died of drug overdoses throughout the country, according to the National Center of Health Statistics. The overdose fatality figure for the same year in Kentucky was 2,250, according to the most recent report from the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy.
It’s in this environment that Brightview is beginning its new operation on Madison Avenue. Brightview has 85 addiction treatment centers throughout the country and 17 in Kentucky. The only other branch they have in the Northern Kentucky region is located in Erlanger.
McDonald estimated that the Erlanger location could handle as many as 700 patients in a year, and some of the larger centers throughout the country could handle over 1,000.
“We don’t want to turn anyone away,” McDonald said.
Smith has been at Brightview for six years. These days, she only visits the clinic once a month or so to check in with a therapist. She’s working again and has custody of her grandchildren. In short, she’s been able to reconstruct something like the life she had before.
She attributed her success at the clinic to the staff members’ willingness to treat the patients with respect and dignity.
“You feel like you’re walking into almost like a family reunion or get together, get to see people you ain’t seen for a month or so,” Smith said. “It’s good.”
McDonald walked LINK nky through the process of enrolling at Brightview during the tour.
“[Patients] check in and the wait’s usually 10 minutes, which is a rare thing when it comes to addiction treatment centers,” McDonald said. “One of the things that sets Brightview apart is you can call for an appointment, go to the website for an appointment, or you can just walk through our doors up until three o’clock that day.”
The short wait times are important, McDonald said, because longer waits will often shred a patient’s motivation to get enrolled in treatment; the longer someone waits, the more likely they are to think it won’t be worth it.
“We accept all insurance and no insurance,” McDonald said. “There are ways that we will help you through the process, but we’re one of the only few places that accepts Medicaid.”
Brightview accepts managed Medicaid plans offered by Aetna, Humana, Molina and United Healthcare. They also accept a variety of private health insurance providers. Even if a patient doesn’t have Medicaid, Brightview’s case workers can help them get signed up for public benefits. Most of Brightview’s patients are on Medicaid, McDonald said.
Brightview offers individual and group therapy sessions, as well as telehealth therapy. There are also women-only therapy groups and LGBTQ+ groups. McDonald said that they try to make the patients comfortable by offering a variety of therapy options.
In addition, the facility dispenses Suboxone as an early pharmacological intervention for opioid addiction. Eventually, McDonald hopes the clinic will also offer methadone, which is much more potent than Suboxone. The facility does not yet have the necessary state credentials to dispense it.
Finally, case managers help patients deal with other issues in patients’ lives that can’t be handled in a clinical setting.
“You have people, because of their situation, their kids have been taken away. They’re in legal trouble. They don’t have a house,” McDonald said. “So our case workers are specifically doing that and helping you find a lawyer that will help get the process of going to get your kids back, find a house.”
By Smith’s telling, the staff at the Paris Brightview branch went over and above to make her life easier both in and out of the clinic.
“I have custody of my grandchildren, four of them,” Smith said. “They bought every one of them Christmas gifts. I didn’t ask them to. I didn’t say they wasn’t going to have nothing. They just did it.”
One of the things Smith appreciates most about Brightview, she said, is that patients are met with compassion.
“They show you heart,” she added. “You know you’re not just patient to them; you feel more like a friend. You can talk to them without feeling like you’re doing it because you have to to get Suboxone.”
One of the biggest challenges to addressing the problem of addiction today is the continued social stigma that many patients experience, McDonald said.
“It’s a disease, and people don’t think of it as that. Just like if you were in a car accident, people are going to run help you,” McDonald said. “But if someone sees someone who happens to have had an overdose, they could walk past them. It’s easier now to get Narcan following the FDA decision,” McDonald said, referencing the Food and Drug Administration’s March decision to allow the sale of naxolone–or Narcan, which is used to revive people who have overdosed on opioids–over the counter.
“But those people are treated like they’ve done this to themselves,” McDonald said. “Like they deserve it. But if someone’s fighting cancer, they didn’t ask for cancer.”
McDonald was careful with even how he referred to the issue, referring to addiction as “substance abuse disorder.”
“We treat people as a person and addiction as a disease,” McDonald said. “If more people had an understanding of what addiction was, they’re more likely to help someone.”
For Smith, the help she received has kept her motivated to build a better future.
“I’m to the place where I’m comfortable now,” Smith said. “I don’t feel like I’m just doing it to be doing it. I’m actually proving why I started doing it.”
The Brightview call center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you believe you or someone you know would benefit from Brightview’s services, call (888) 502-4571. You can also visit their website to learn more about their services.
Additionally, to learn about other addiction-related services in the local area, call the Northern Kentucky Addiction Helpline at (859) 415-9280 or the KY Help Call Center at (833) 859-4357.