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Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission has much to offer

 

(L to R) Counselors Nikeyiah Hammonds, Heather Sumner, and Lula Brown in a residential patient’s room.

Colleton County Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Director of Lowcountry Crossroads, a woman’s residential center located at their facility is “Walterboro’s best-kept secret,” although she and other administrators have constantly been trying to get information regarding the commission out into the public domain.Ron Rickenbaker , the commissions director, said the commission’s mission is the treatment of substance abuse. “We can provide an array of services, which includes traditional out-patient and also advanced residential treatment for chemically-dependent women.” He added the Walterboro facility accepts clients from all over South Carolina, adding that it is one of only four such facilities within the state.

Rickenbaker pointed out that the commission’s facility is required to be licensed by South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control and accredited by a national accreditation agency (the Commission on Accreditation for Rehabilitation Facilities has accredited the local commission, a behavior health accreditation program out of Tucson, Arizona). “Without both of these, we would not be open,” Rickenbaker said. The local commission’s Associate Director and Clinical Supervisor Bonnie Fargnoli added that all clinical personnel are licensed and/or credentialed. “This is also very important,” she noted.

The facility also has a primary substance abuse prevention program, which is a community-based effort  that works locally with schools, children and teens, civic groups, industries and businesses, which is referred to as CAST (Community Action for a Safer Tomorrow). The commission also works closely with the 14th Judicial Circuit’s Alcohol Enforcement Team. The team conducts alcohol compliance at local stores to ensure that people buying alcoholic beverages are 21 years of age or older, conducts fraudulent identification checks at local bars, public safety road checkpoints, and also regularly helps coordinate party patrols and dispersals at rivers and landings. “They’ve helped in the prevention of a lot of underage drinking, and the reduction of a lot of DUIs (driving under the influence,)” Rickenbaker said.

Rickenbaker noted that the two above-mentioned are grant funded, and the commission provides training for any law enforcement agency that needs it. He added the commission is overseen by a nine-member board appointed by the Colleton County Council. “We have had very good board members those members, along with our county government, has provided us with a lot of support. We have a good neighbor in government structure.”

CAST County Coordinator Amanda Lucas Darden said that anyone who needs assistance is welcome to come to the commission for help. “If someone is not ready for residential treatment, we can steer them in the right direction, whether it is another method of out-patient help through our agency or even help from another agency similar to ours,” she said. The commission accepts insurance, Medicaid, and patients who wish to self-pay. The commission urges people who need help on an inpatient or an outpatient basis to call them, no matter what kind of financial situation they find themselves in.

Outpatient services are based on intervention and treatment. Rickenbaker said the commission as a Alcohol/Drug Safety Action program (ADSAP) in connection with law enforcement violations such as drivers license suspensions related to drug and/or alcohol related offenses. “We assess these people and put them into appropriate service areas. We try to educate, intervene, and provide treatment, and the results are usually good.” Rickenbaker added that after treatment, commission members watch for general health improvement, improvements in family relations, and also improvements on all other levels.  

Howard, who is over the Lowcountry Crossroads, said that the in-house facility is a residential treatment facility for both pregnant and parenting women dependant on drugs and/or alcohol and their infant children. The facility tries to promote balanced living through bio-psycho-social harmony while providing residents with the tools necessary for recovery and the attainment of the skills needed for daily living.

“Lowcountry Crossroads provides a highly-structured recovery environment in combination with moderate to high density professional clinical services,” Howard said. Treatment services are geared toward maintaining abstinence and relapse prevention. The services also strongly promote personal responsibility and positive character change.

Howard said the program also includes therapeutic groups, activities, and educational components that includes the patients’ older children, spouses, or significant others. These programs help the patient and family as they continue with their lives after leaving Lowcountry Crossroads.

Howard said the average stay at the residential facility is 30 days, but, if more time is justified, the stay can last up to six months. “All services are individualized to help meet people’s needs,” Howard said.