Opioid Epidemic: Not enough treatment space as addiction rises in SC

Empty beds are rare at the Phoenix Center detox facility.

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – FAVOR Greenville, and outpatient recovery center, says its Emergency Room Response team has responded to five overdoses at Greenville Health System in the last 24 hours.

However, the problem begins when people are discharged from the hospital in withdrawal, but there isn’t a lot of space at the places where they can seek treatment.

The Phoenix Center is an addiction treatment and rehabilitation facility. It operates one of four public detox centers in the state, where a typical stay is between 3 to 7 days. They have 16 beds that service the entire Upstate, and they fill up fast.

“As soon as one opens, we’re seeking to fill it that day within 6 to 12 hours,” said Michael McLain, the director of Outpatient Services at the Phoenix Center.

Because of Medicaid standards, the facilities can’t add any more beds, so for people who don’t have insurance or can’t afford to pay $10,000 or more for treatment, there are only 64 detox beds for them in the state.

“A person will be waiting to get into treatment, and they’ll treat it as or think of it as let me have my one last party before I go to rehab…But, unfortunately in today’s world, that’s fatal,” said Rich Jones, the CEO of FAVOR Greenville.

At the Phoenix Center, the wait for a detox bed is usually one to two days.

There are only two 30-day long term public treatment facilities in the state with usually a four to six week wait to get one of their combined 140 beds.

The Phoenix Center and FAVOR say that’s when their staff goes a little bit further.

“We stick with them,” Jones said.  “We’ll call them the next day and check on them. We’ll call their loved one.”

McLain says it usually takes people around six attempts to quit before they turn to recovery.

“When a person does show willingness to seek help, that’s golden, and we really need to have a place for that person to go and get support right away,” McLain said.

He also says there are some faith-based rehabilitation programs that offer longer stays which could be an option for some people willing to seek that type of guidance.

However, McLain says in order to combat the space issue it will take talking to lawmakers to increase bed capacity limits and making Narcan more accessible and affordable for family members to have if they find their loved one overdosing.