“Every day holds a possibility of a miracle.”
This is a quote hanging above a full-size bed in a private, inpatient detox room for those struggling with drug addiction at the Crosswinds Center in Greenbrier County.
Carol Banchinger of Lewisburg was a patient at the Crosswinds Center two years ago.
After getting into trouble with the law, Banchinger, 27 years old at the time, had to choose rehabilitation or jail.
She chose the Crosswinds Center, a five- to 15-day inpatient drug treatment facility and crisis stabilization center just outside of Lewisburg in the small town of Maxwelton.
“I was on Suboxone at the time and really any opioid I could get a hold of,” Banchinger recalled.
Upon checking into the detox center, like any patient, Banchinger was required to meet with a nurse and intake counselor. Each patient is then given a T-shirt and pants to wear, and their personal clothing is washed and inspected.
Cleaning each patient’s clothing is to ensure cleanliness at the facility, but also to inspect the clothing for hidden drugs.
“We have had patients try to bring in Suboxone films. They’re similar to a Listerine strip, if you remember what one of those look like,” said Jessie Schoolcraft, director of nursing at the Crosswinds Center.
Banchinger was scared when she first walked into the facility. This wasn’t her first time trying rehab.
It was difficult the first few days of detox, but she says Crosswinds does a great job of making patients as comfortable as they can during the process. She says it also helps that the rooms are all private and cozy.
She’s been drug-free since 2016 after detoxing at the center — she credits Vivitrol as the key to her sobriety.
Vivitrol is an injectable medication used to treat alcohol and opioid dependence. For opiate addiction, Vivitrol serves as an antagonist that creates a barrier that blocks opioid receptors.
Banchinger was given an injection every 28 days, which she says curbed her drug cravings.
“I didn’t have any cravings after I got the shot. Vivitrol really worked for me,” she said. “After I was on it for a year, it got a lot easier to stay clean.”
Bauchinger no longer needs Vivitrol injections and hasn’t touched any drugs since. She now volunteers as a peer recovery coach with Seneca Health and the Greenbrier County Health Department’s needle exchange program.
“I want everyone to know it’s (Crosswinds) here. And they can help.”
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During The Register-Herald’s interview, six patients were detoxing at the facility.
Noel Jewell, medical director and doctor for the Crosswinds Center, says the entire 11-bed facility should be full.
“We have the worst opiate crisis in history; there shouldn’t be any open beds here,” Jewell said.
In 2016, drug overdoses killed more than 63,000 Americans. The most recent state data shows West Virginia lost more than 1,000 residents to overdoses in 2017 — the largest number recorded to date.
A 2016 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study said the largest increase in opioid overdose death rates was in men between 25 and 44 years old.
CDC statistics also indicate the number of pregnant women who use drugs has skyrocketed. The number of women with opioid use disorder quadrupled from 1999 to 2014.
Dr. Jewell says the nation’s drug epidemic is becoming a huge problem. Jewell’s goal for every patient who detoxes at his facility is to immediately enter a long-term 28- or 90-day rehabilitation upon release to ensure success.
“We have great relationships with all of the long-term facilities in the state,” Jewell said. “We’re just one piece of this puzzle ... detox. They still need a lot more treatment after that.”
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Before Crosswinds, Jewell said he tried operating an outpatient Suboxone clinic, but it was unsuccessful.
Jewell says a lot of rehabilitation programs encourage MAT (medication-assisted treatment), including the use of Suboxone, a prescription medication commonly used to treat opioid dependence. The medication itself, however, can cause addiction and dependence.
Jewell said a lot of the patients who come to Crosswinds are addicted to Suboxone. This is followed closely behind by patients addicted to opioids, heroin and meth.
While staying at the Crosswinds Center, patients are treated on an individual basis, Jewell says. One detox medication they use for all pregnant women is Buprenorphine, which is a partial opioid agonist used to treat addiction.
“We treat them symptomatically as best as we can,” Jewell said.
Most suffering from drug addiction put off rehabilitation because they don’t want to be sick, Jewell says, or they feel like they don’t have a choice. He says getting patients over the first 24 to 48 hours of detox is the hardest part.
But he wants all individuals suffering from addiction to know, “You’ve got a shot at lifetime sobriety.”
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Amanda O’Neil, a Lewisburg resident and former drug user, is now a peer recovery counselor at Crosswinds.
O’Neil was previously arrested for delivery of a controlled substance. She’s says she broke free from her opioid addiction two years ago.
Like Bauchinger, Vivitrol was a life-changing medication for O’Neil, too.
“Every day gets easier,” O’Neal said. “You become so used to living your life dirty and using drugs, that whole new lifestyle is scary, because it’s new.”
For O’Neil, taking pills started out as a casual thing she did when she “partied.” Her drug use escalated from there.
“Your body just gets more and more addicted and you get physically hooked,” she said.
O’Neil says she wants people suffering from addiction to know that they can get clean and start a new life. She encourages patients to try the Crosswinds Center.
“It might not seem like it when you’re using, but you can do better things with your life. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it. If I can help one person, it’s better than zero,” O’Neil said.
The Crosswinds Center welcomes women and men ages 18 and up. The center has also been the temporary home to many pregnant women who need aid detoxing from drugs prior to delivering their babies.
Director Jessie Schoolcraft says there’s no place like the Crosswinds Center in the area.
“I just want the public to know we’re here,” Schoolcraft said. “It’s never too late. We have six beds open today.”
If you or a loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, the Crosswinds Center accepts new patients 24/7, 365 days a year.
The center takes Medicaid and private pay. They also have some funding for charity care assistance.
For more information, call the Crosswinds Center at 304-497-2850.