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Brendan Lockhart describes his mind as a jigsaw puzzle.
“When I’m high, it looks like it fits together perfectly but it’s all a façade,” the 25-year-old tells a recovery coach on the day before Thanksgiving.
When Lockhart was ready to stop using, he said a half a dozen rehab centers turned him away because he didn’t have insurance or any other mental health disorders. He eventually found a bed at a detox facility in Bloomington.
Now in recovery, Lockhart meets with a certified peer addiction recovery coach through the Community Paramedicine Program’s Quick Response Team, which launched in June. The coach, a former drug user who works for behavioral health provider Integrative Wellness, helps recovering addicts find jobs and other benefits to maintain their sobriety.
It’s part of a unique four-pronged approach to curbing drug abuse by bringing together former users, the local hospital and behavioral health providers, fire and EMS personnel and the criminal justice system.
“We’re in the life-saving business and this is another thing just to make sure people have an opportunity for tomorrow,” Crawfordsville Fire Department EMS Division Chief Paul Miller said.
Within two days of a drug overdose victim’s release from the hospital, a community paramedic meets them to review options for further treatment. Clients can be admitted to a rehab facility, get an appointment with the recovery coach or be prescribed medication-assisted treatment.
People with substance use disorder aren’t the program’s only targets. Community paramedics also meet with seniors who’ve fallen at home, suicide attempt survivors and people with other mental health conditions. The program is funded through a grant from the Indiana Department of Health.
Crawfordsville is one of only two places, including a Florida community, with that model for post-hospitalization treatment, Miller said.
For the recovery coach, Maddy Edmiston, the program offers a support system that wasn’t available after her 2015 drug overdose. Now 26, Edmiston started using drugs when she was 14 and became addicted to heroin and methamphetamine, landing her in and out of jail.
“The last time I was incarcerated [and] got out, I really wanted to do something different but didn’t know how,” she said.
Edmiston, the daughter of a firefighter, relapsed following her release, eventually leading to the overdose. First responders used Narcan to revive her.
More than two years after getting sober, Edmiston now develops recovery plans for former drug users, including Montgomery County Jail inmates. At one point this fall, she was meeting up to 25 clients.
“I want to help people that have the desire [to begin recovering] but don’t know how. They don’t have a way,” she said.
At a Crawfordsville medical office building, Edmiston steps outside her dimly-lit office to greet Lockhart when he arrives for a mid-afternoon appointment. Lockhart allowed a reporter to observe the session.
Employed at a local factory, Lockhart is looking for another job with a better schedule to manage his diabetes. He’s applied to a local store and restaurants in hopes of getting an interview.
“I’m eating three meals a day, which I haven’t had in a while,” Lockhart said.
When someone recently offered him drugs and another person who was high wanted to spend time with him, Lockhart said he refused both times.
Edmiston started writing a list of tasks to accomplish before the next session, telling Lockhart his recovery was staying on track.
“I never want to go back to that crap,” Lockhart replied.