Rural recovery center offers help with drug epidemic

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MANTACHIE • Area sheriffs say drugs, directly or indirectly, account for the majority of the prisoners in their jails.

Itawamba County Sheriff Chris Dickinson said he sees the same folks over and over. “It’s like there is a revolving door on the jail,” he said.

Law enforcement now has a new tool to treat addicts who want to get help, Extra Mile Recovery located in the Ratliff community on the Itawamba-Lee county line. Three sheriffs toured the facility Wednesday and say they will use it as much as possible.

 

“We normally deal with Restoration Ranch in Tuscumbia (Alabama) or God’s House of Hope in Nettleton because our folks don’t have insurance or the financial means to pay,” said Prentiss County Sheriff Randy Tolar. “But those places have a waiting list, and if two people know each other, they won’t accept the new one.”

Most of Extra Mile’s current clients are from out of state and their stay is paid by insurance, but the facility wants to open more to the local community. Executive director Rod Farrar said they plan to offer 10 percent of their beds to scholarships.

The facility is certified to do a clinical detoxification of opiate addicts over a seven-day period using decreasing amounts of the synthetic drug Suboxone. Unlike some facilities, Extra Mile does not give Suboxone to methamphetamine users. Those patients are allowed to detox naturally, using time and sleep.

That was good news for Pontotoc County Sheriff Leo Mask.

“About 90 percent of meth people come back to us on Suboxone,” Mask said.

Situated in a rural setting with a main house and cabins surrounding a pond, Extra Mile differs from many recovery facilities. They keep people longer, treat them differently and try to get them to change their habits to prevent recidivism.

“We don’t treat addiction, we treat people,” Farrar said. “Addiction is only a small portion of the problem.

“Once you get them clean and sober, you have to help them cope with the problems that led them to drugs.”

Teaching people to avoid old friends and old habits takes time. That’s why Extra Mile is a 90-day program, three times the length of the standard 28-day or 30-day program. Extra Mile nurse Christina Farrar said it normally takes 30 days just to get the drugs out of a person’s system and get them medically stable.

“That’s where the 90 days comes in,” said Jamie Richey, marketing director and former addict. “You need enough time to practice how to avoid drugs in a supportive environment. That takes more than 30 days.”

The private facility is for men only and has 24 beds. People stay in the main house for the first few weeks until they prove themselves. After that, they move into one of the cabins that house between four-six at a time. Even though there are bed checks throughout the night and the clients are monitored by security cameras, moving into the cabin is a big step.

 

“It allows some form of independence,” Richey said. “These guys have lost their job, their wife, their kids. They are able to start getting back to a sense of normalcy.

“We take for granted the little things we do on a daily basis. Just going out on the porch to smoke is a big deal for them.”

Because it uses a different format, Extra Mile sees more success with people who have tried and failed at other programs.

“It is rare to see a success from a 30-day program,” Dickinson said.

But the veteran officers always try to help those who want help.

“We can’t give up hope in them, even when we get burned daily,” Tolar said.

Extra Mile has been open since October 2017. They admitted 57 in the last year and hope to be able to help around 100 per year.

 
 

william.moore@journalinc.com Twitter:@WilliamMoore_DJ