New software promises to help find heroin addicts help faster

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A simple, but new software program has those who help heroin addicts excited over the life-saving possibilities of finally being able to find help more efficiently.

Right now, addicts who want help have to call each and every treatment facility, one by one, telling them their story and hoping that the facility accepts people with their specific addiction, medical situation and insurance. Then, there is the issue of whether or not there are any beds available.

"It is an archaic process. It is unbelievable that in this day and age, the average way people are finding facilities is by calling one by one by one," said Blazine Monaco of Hope over Heroin. "These people are calling each place and repeating their story. By the time they even find help, it is very common for them to change their minds or overdose."

The hope is that with this new software program more quickly matching up those that want help to a facility that will take them, more lives will be saved.

Just recently, Monaco got a call that could have ended differently had she had this software available.

"Last week, he and his girlfriend were addicted, and he was begging for help. Two days it took me to identify a place, and by that point, he didn't never answered his phone. I cannot reach them," added Monaco.

Robert Ellison says he and his family could have benefited from this new technology when his heroin addicted daughter came to him saying that she needed help. He and his wife called treatment center after treatment center and could not find one that had both availability and accepted someone with his daughter's specific needs.

Treatment centers can be very specific about who they will and won't take. One facility said they wouldn't take Andrea because she didn't have heroin in her system at that particular moment.

"We detoxed her on our living room couch through the whole ordeal. At that point, our daughter sat there in pain and crying and said, 'no one loves us. No one wants to help the addict. No one wants to help the heroin addict. There is nothing for us,' and my wife started crying and she got down and said, 'we love you very much. We are here, and we are going to do whatever we can to help.'"

Eventually, the Ellisons found a treatment facility that worked for Andrea. She is now 15 months sober, but had she not had parents who were determined to keep calling for help day after day, her story may have ended differently.

"When they do not have open beds, they ask the addicted to call back every morning to find out if an opening has come, but it is just crazy that you would expect somebody that is in that state of mind to be that patient when they are seeking help that is emergency oriented," said Monaco.

The new software program that matches addicts with an appropriate treatment facility is expected to be put into use this month.

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