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NBC4: Central Ohio treatment center shifts to caring for adults battling addiction

Via NBC4, Shawn Lanier

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Central Ohio is seeing an increase in overdose and overdose-related deaths and experts believe the pandemic is playing a role in the deadly trend.

Shawn Holt, the president and CEO of Maryhaven, a comprehensive treatment center helping people with addiction and mental illness, said the pandemic has brought more uncertainty to the opioid crisis.

The treatment facility has adjusted to make sure they remain available for people in need.

“Everybody just dropping like flies,” said Brittany Whalen who is in treatment. “It’s just so, so bad to see this happening.”

Whalen, who had used heroine for 11 years before receiving treatment, said she knows she could have been one of those people who wound up dead.

“I finally had just given up and went into the hospital,” said Whalen.

Earlier this year, Whalen, a mother of two, started the hard road to recovery at Maryhaven.

“You can literally just walk in to Maryhaven and get the help you need,” said Whalen.

Holt said in early October when 18 people died of suspected overdoses, they had openings in their adolescent unit and a waiting list for their adult beds. He said it was at that point that Maryhaven transitioned away from its adolescent programs to focus on adults struggling with addiction during the pandemic.

Holt said it was tough to cut back the adolescent programs, but added other programs in central Ohio are better suited for that group.

Now, on any given day, Maryhaven has around 200 beds available.

“We will be able to provide treatment for those folks who are ready to get treatment and reduce our waiting list significantly,” said Holt.

No waiting list means someone like Whalen can get back on the right track and restart their life.

“There’s always that chance that something might click and you can just start your life completely over,” said Whalen. “They literally gave me my life back.”