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At 6 months, Meritus Crisis Center key in local addiction fight

April 18, 2024 - Press Release

Since it opened Sept. 15, the Meritus Crisis Center has seen 204 patients.

Dalton Jones was one of them.

“They are amazing,” he said of the staff at the six-bed inpatient Crisis Center. “They basically saved my life.”

Meritus Health opened the facility to support the needs of those struggling with addiction as part of its mission to improve the health of the community. The facility builds upon the success of a pilot initiative, which featured three crisis stabilization beds, launched in August 2022.

The Maryland Department of Health recently reported that the rate of fatal overdose deaths in Washington County between November 2022 and November 2023 decreased by 22 percent. Local healthcare leaders attributed part of that drop to the creation of the crisis stabilization beds.

The program is for patients 18 and older who have experienced an overdose and are willing to go to long-term treatment for addiction.

A dirt bike accident when he was 20 led Jones to being prescribed oxycodone. Once the prescription ran out, he was buying pills off the street. One of those was laced with fentanyl, which led to his full-blown addiction.

“I lost my wife, I lost my three kids, I lost my house, I lost everything,” he said.

Jones, who has been sober since Jan. 1, was dropped off at the Crisis Center by his mother, who no longer wanted him in the house.

“I had nowhere else to go,” he said.

 The Crisis Center program provides supportive counseling and evaluation of patients, and initial stabilizing and monitoring.

Jones credits the Crisis Center for helping him detox. While working the drugs out of his system, the counselors made him comfortable with food and shelter.

“If you're not comfortable while going through withdrawal, you'll never get clean,” he said.

Patients are generally allowed to stay up to 72 hours until they can be accepted into a rehabilitation program.

“Doing what we can to get people on the path to sobriety and rehabilitation is our goal,” said Allen Twigg, executive director of behavioral and community health at Meritus. “We will work with patients to get them the care that they need.”

Jones said he was able to use the center more than once because the first rehabilitation program he entered was not a good fit.

At the suggestion of the counselors at the Crisis Center, he entered a treatment program in Baltimore County.

It’s been a success.

“I get to see my kids now. My family is starting to talk to me again,” he said. “Life has been phenomenal.”

Jones’ success story is one of many since the Crisis Center opened in the fall. Statistics show patients stay for an average of two days, and 68% have been admitted to substance use disorder treatment, which is above the national average. So far, only 15% of people cared for have returned within 30 days.

“The Crisis Center is here to help our neighbors battling addiction, regardless of their ability to pay, who want to get themselves free,” said Meritus President and CEO Maulik Joshi, Dr.P.H. “Through partnerships with community members, we offer this resource for the community as another front in the battle against the opioid epidemic.”

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