MECCA 2013 report released


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One local organization is continuing its fight against the inexorable tide of substance abuse.

According to MECCA report from fiscal 2013, more people suffering from drug-abuse problems are actively and voluntarily seeking help. In fact, MECCA CEO Ron Berg said the majority of clients were not committed to participate in treatment by court.

According to a report made at the Johnson County Board of Supervisors meeting on Thursday, MECCA — the Mid-Eastern Council on Chemical Abuse — served more than 1,700 clients in Johnson County in the past year.

Of these clients, 151 were in residential treatment, 1,052 were in outpatient treatment, 34 were participating in the marijuana diversion program, 106 participated in detoxification, and 384 were part of the jail-evaluation program. MECCA also provides 24-hour phone and email assistance. In the last year, it had more than 4,600 calls and more than 300 emails.

Berg said that the Marijuana Diversion Program, which was only recently instituted, helps clients make better decisions in their lives.

“The program is not preachy,” he said. “It just helps people examine their choices.”

MECCA Vice President of Community Affairs Shannon Greene said alcohol abuse is the most treated issue in Johnson County.

“The majority of folks come to us for alcohol,” Greene said. “Marijuana is the second most common, followed by meth.”

Greene said that access is going to be one of the focuses of MECCA moving forward. The agency encourages appointments for anyone seeking help.

Supervisor Rod Sullivan said that MECCA can be a valuable resource for improving the county.

“Assuming that things go as planned,” Sullivan said. “The county could see some savings.”

There are several foreseeable issues for MECCA moving forward, Berg said. The first of these is the Affordable Care Act. Berg said that he is still unsure how the act will affect MECCA.

“[The act makes] planning for the future … interesting,” Berg said.

Another potential issue is the lack of space in the Johnson County Jail. Due to crowding in the jail, client confidentiality can sometimes be an issue.

“The biggest concern is having space where we can [work] with a client uninterrupted,” he said.

Sullivan agreed that space is an issue, adding that lack of funding can also be a hindrance to progress.

The supervisors is holding meetings to discuss a possible plan for improvements to the jail, which may provide more room for these services.

“We know there are more things we could do,” Sullivan said. “Some of those things we don’t have space for; some we don’t have money for.”

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