PEPPER PIKE - Cuyahoga County does not offer detox beds for juveniles addicted to drugs, and NewsChannel 5 learned that there are few places in Northeast Ohio for them to turn to for residential treatment.
"The opiate heroin epidemic has really changed everything for us," said Mike Matoney, CEO of New Directions, a juvenile residential treatment center in Pepper Pike.
New Directions is the only juvenile residential treatment center funded by Cuyahoga County's Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services board. And it is one of a few known places in Northeast Ohio that offer help to males and females under the age of 18.
“I started using meth when I was 14 and heroin when I was 15,” said Paige Scalf who has sent the last six weeks at New Directions.
Scalf, who is from Aurora, describes a drug problem among teens that is much more rampant than most people may realize.
“All of the friends that I had, they don’t care," she added. "They don’t want the help. I didn’t want the help when I first got here.”
New Directions offers 16 beds for girls and 18 beds for boys. The average length of stay is six weeks. The center's wait list is now a month long, which is the highest it has been in recent years.
“I actually do have a problem; and I’m not the only one who does," she added.
“I went in and found him and attempted to perform CPR while his brother called 911 but it had been too late," said Fred Dimarco of North Olmsted whose son Nick died of a fentanyl-laced heroin overdose in 2015. He had been a patient at New Directions as a juvenile.
No one in Cuyahoga County under the age of 18 has ever died of a heroin overdose.
The Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services board of Cuyahoga County gave this statement to NewsChannel 5:
“Any time a family cannot get the services they need is considered a problem. As of 2014, 100% of individuals dying by heroin overdose are over the age of 19. Currently we are focusing on youth addiction prevention programs to stop the problem before its starts. However, we recognize that this addiction affects all ages and we are always looking for ways to advance our continuum of care, which may include detox beds for adolescents. “