Heroin epidemic increases need for addiction counselors

Heroin epidemic increases need for addiction counselors

WOOD COUNTY, OH (WTOL) - It's expected to be another record-breaking year for heroin-related deaths in Northwest Ohio.

In just the first three months of the year there have been 57 deaths and 2016 is on pace for more than 220 heroin-related deaths.

The epidemic is creating a ripple effect.

Everyday, clients are coming through the doors of Harbor Wood County Behavioral Connections looking for treatment, but now there's a need for professionals to get them down the right path.

"I was lucky enough to get out and if I can do anything to help them figure out the way out of this horrible life, then I'll do it," said Nick Sidle, who is a recovering heroin addict, more than seven years clean.

Sidle lost his father and uncle to heroin and he finally had enough of his life of addiction to seek help.

"I saw it getting worse and knew there was only going to be two options for me, which was either going to be death or quitting," said Sidle.

Now, Sidle goes to group therapy and is working to become a licensed chemical dependency counselor to help others with substance abuse. "These are my people," said Sidle. "I'm no different than any of them and now I've crossed into the clinical side too so it's almost like I speak two languages."

And boy is his help needed.

"The supply of clients that are looking to seek wellness and recovery is so great that it's difficult to keep staff available to treat all of those clients," says Joel Brownfield, the Senior Clinical Manager at Harbor of Wood County Behavioral Health.

Brownfield says not only is the heroin epidemic adding to the shortage of treatment professionals, it's a tough job to take on, which leads to high turnover.

"It's a high burnout field with opiate addiction. You're dealing with as high as 80 percent relapse rates for clients who are trying to recover and that can be difficult for the staff working with clients," said Brownfield.

Brownfield adds if you have the credentials and the willingness to help others, he can find a spot for you, much like Sidle.

"They say if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life. I haven't worked a day since I've been here,"said Sidle.

Click here if you're looking for work in the field, or for addiction treatment.

Follow WTOL:  

Download our app here

Copyright 2016 WTOL. All rights reserved.