Pooler recovery center opens to help battle opioid crisis

POOLER, GA (WTOC) - Every 19 minutes, someone dies from an accidental drug overdose. Most of the time, it's prescription drugs.

This opioid epidemic is not someone else's problem. Monday afternoon in Pooler, another treatment center opened its doors. It's another option for people hoping to break the opioid cycle. As the community continues to increase treatment options, survivors say it really does take more than a clinic to treat this problem.

Recovering addict, Desmond Crone, says he never made it home from his treatment center before he was hooked again. He went back but says it was a mentorship program that pulled him through.

As law enforcement and politicians search for a fix to this epidemic, over 23 million Americans search for a vein or a pill bottle each day to get their fix. For Crone, it was a pill one day from a coworker to cure a headache, that led to five years of addiction.

"It escalated to snorting the pills and then shooting the pills," Crone said. "Then I was around town doctor shopping, then around the state doctor shopping, and then finally when it got harder to get the pills, I was a full-blown heroin addict."

It was a craving that evolved into an obsession.

"It took me to a place that I never thought I could go," he said. "I was selling things in the house when I ran out of money. I would do whatever it took to get it."

Where to get it. Crone said that was the easy part. Doctors, friends, the streets - the world was a candy store for pills. As the second substance abuse treatment center in the region broke ground Monday, they say their patients come for help at rock bottom.

Before Monday, Recovery Place Incorporated was the only local substance abuse provider. The program places people in a residential treatment plan for 90-120 days. The best part is for the first time, the treatment is free. Now, the Emerald Neuro Recover Center opened in Pooler as a second for-profit treatment center.

"A lot of them have unfortunately lost their children, lost their spouses, lost their jobs, lost their freedom," said Shali Reynolds, President of the Emerald Neuro Recover Center. "We're here to get a grip on it, get a hold of it, before they lose their life."

The Emerald Neuro Recover Center is not a traditional place for addiction treatment, but Reynolds insists it's faster because it treats all aspects of the patient's health.

"You're either looking for neuro-recovery, or you're looking for traditional treatment," Reynolds said. "Most people that are looking for us have been there and done it multiple times, and it hasn't worked for them."

Success for any kind of treatment is up to the individual. For Desmond Crone, it had less to do with the treatment and more to do with the company he kept after it.

"I needed a mentor," Crone said. "I needed someone to guide me and show me the way they did it."

It's never a bad thing to have more treatment options in a community like ours, and the Emerald Neuro Recover Center adds to those options. Most health professionals know, as long as these opioids are so easy to get, it will be too easy for addicts to keep getting high.

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