South End getting first medicaid chemical dependency office

Freeland will soon be home to the first medicaid-funded, substance use disorder treatment facility on South Whidbey.

American Behavioral Health Systems is opening an office within a couple of weeks, according to ABHS Director Tony Prentice.

“It’s something that the community has asked for for a really long time,” said Skye Newkirk, behavioral health coordinator for Island County. “It just makes sense to get the services to where the people are.”

The Spokane-based organization has clinics throughout the state of Washington.

The Freeland location will offer outpatient services such as group counseling and individual sessions.

Clients will learn to identify emotional triggers, coping skills and determine a relapse prevention plan, Prentice said.

Staff at the facility will also provide information about joining safe and sober support networks such as narcotics anonymous, about securing employment and provide support for getting into housing if necessary.

“Having access to treatment nearby is really important, especially for the population that might experience issues with transportation around busy work schedules,” said Newkirk.

Clients who first get assessed and are determined to need services will be required to complete eight hours of group counseling a week and one individual session a week or more, as needed. After 12 weeks, patients who are making progress will be reduced to two group sessions a week along with the one individual session, said Prentice.

Newkirk worked with the North Sound Behavioral Health Organization to bring more chemical dependency treatment centers to Whidbey Island.

Newkirk said the county recently found 43 percent of county residents who needed substance use disorder treatment were traveling outside of the county for services.

That number is high compared to other counties in the region, where numbers were closer to 15 percent.

Newkirk said another organization is planning on opening an office in Oak Harbor, but there are still a number of details that need to get worked out and it may be another six months before it opens.

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