Pubdate: Mon, 17 Jan 2000
Source: Billings Gazette, The (MT)
Copyright: 2000 The Billings Gazette
Contact:  P.O. Box 36300, Billings, MT 59101-6300
Fax: 406-657-1208
Author: Pat Bellinghausen, The Gazette Staff


Free Outpatient Treatment For Methamphetamine Addiction.

That's the deal the Mental Health Center Chemical Dependency Program is
offering Billings area people age 18 and over.

The federal Center for Substance Abuse Treatment awarded the Mental Health
Center Chemical Dependency Program about $1 million for a three-year
research project to evaluate the effectiveness of outpatient treatment for
methamphetamine addiction.

Billings is the most rural site among seven sites in this study. One is in
Hawaii and the rest are in California. Each site will enroll adult
volunteers into treatment, randomly assigning the volunteers either to the
site's usual outpatient program or to a 16-week Matrix program. The Matrix
model, developed by the Matrix Institute in Los Angeles, had demonstrated
some success. This seven-site research project was designed to see if the
Matrix program can be replicated in other areas and how it compares with
what treatment centers already are providing.

The greatest immediate benefit of the research project is making
methamphetamine treatment available at no cost to Billings area people.

Since the project began last April, 41 women and 29 men have volunteered to
participate, according to Denna Vandersloot, a chemical dependency
counselor and project director.

Participants must be people who are actively using methamphetamine,
Vandersloot said.

"If somebody comes in, we can usually get them actually into treatment
services within a week," she said.

"We've had some participants from outlying areas driving back and forth,"
Vandersloot said, explaining that part of the project has involved
communicating with treatment professionals in Billings and surrounding
communities. Chemical dependency treatment programs in Lame Deer and Crow
Agency have provided transportation for community members who wanted to
participate in the Billings-based treatment.

Volunteers are asked to attend intensive outpatient treatment sessions
three or four evenings a week. They also are interviewed weekly by project
research assistants. After the intensive treatment course, participants may
participate in aftercare at no cost.

Vandersloot said the project has been reaching some people who were under
no legal mandate to get treatment. People who just heard about the project
or who saw the newspaper advertisement have enrolled.

"They have just decided to get treatment," Vandersloot said. "I think
people choose to begin using (methamphetamine) but by the time they realize
this is an addiction, there is no longer a choice. They need help to stop
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