Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

April 23, 2013

McDowell Suboxone treatment in high demand

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

WELCH — More than 140 people are now on a waiting list for treatment at McDowell County’s new Suboxone clinic.

Judy Akers, chief executive officer of Southern Highlands Community Mental Health Center, said the new clinic in Welch treats 24 patients at a time and currently has an extensive waiting list.

“If the group isn’t full, we have a waiting list of people waiting to join,” Akers said. “There are currently 143 people on our waiting list for the McDowell clinic. There are a lot of people interested in receiving treatment.”

Akers said the Suboxone clinic in McDowell County isn’t the only area Southern Highlands serves where there is a large demand for drug treatment.

“We want to see more recovery, which is why we are looking for more doctors to increase our service,” she said. “We have a need not only in McDowell County but in Mercer and Wyoming counties as well. We currently have a waiting list of people for our drug treatment clinic in Mercer County and have yet to open up a clinic in Wyoming County.”

Akers said the number of clients currently seeking treatment and the number of people on the waiting list for treatment is often fluid.

“How long treatment takes depends on the person,” Akers said. “People leave by choice. Others stay for different lengths of time depending on what their treatment needs are. It depends on the people in the group and what they need.”

Akers said the length of the waiting list shows how great the need is for drug treatment facilities in southern West Virginia.

“We take it as a good sign that people are seeking treatment,” she said. “However, we take it as a bad sign that this many people need treatment. If there are this many people who say they need help there are probably just as many people who are not seeking help or recovery.”

In order to treat more people, Akers said Southern Highlands is looking into how they can expand local treatment options.

“We are exploring other ways of bringing services into the area,” she said. “We are looking at trying to recruit additional physicians to help with the number of people we are seeing. We just have to use what resources we have and hope for the best.”

— Contact Kate Coil at