By Marti Webb Slay
Published: January 17, 2022
William Wainscott is passionate about addiction recovery. As the CEO of Kolbe Clinic and Kolbe Detox, and the founder of the nonprofit Rural Addiction Prevention (RAP), Wainscott is committed to bringing quality addiction services to the people of Alabama.
A new $1,000,000 grant from the Department of Health and Human Services will allow RAP to expand into seven rural Alabama Counties with two clinics, one in Collinsville and the other at Tallassee Hospital Outpatient Center.
“The grant is a start of expansion into rural areas, to address addiction issues there,” Wainscott said. “That’s where there is a lack of care, and that’s where the biggest problems are. It’s not just about expanding treatment. We also aim to expand prevention services along with training and education services. We will be able to train existing providers on how to treat and liaison with drug courts and to work on treatment rather than punishment.”
“Many people who are addicted have their first encounter for recovery when they are arrested. If you live in a rural area with a primary care physician who isn’t screening for substance abuse, and there are no treatment facilities, who is going to identify that a person has substance abuse disorder? It’s going to be the police when they make an arrest. This grant will help us do a better job of prevention in schools; working with police departments to identify people with addiction and keep them out of the system and into treatment; train existing providers; have treatment available when we do identify addiction; and then follow up with their care long-term.
“The goal beyond setting up the two clinics is to either expand our clinics or train a local provider depending on the circumstances. I’m an advocate of treatment. I like having more clinics, but ultimately, it’s about providing access for patients. If we have to go in and train a physician in the area to do it because that’s the best option, that’s what we’ll do.”
The grant also includes funding to purchase a vehicle at each location to transport patients when needed. “We will also work with other entities to help with transportation,” Wainscott said. “This is a coalition grant. The federal government is trying to build links between anyone involved in treatment in these areas. Individually we can help, but together we can get there quicker.”
In addition, UAB will be screening and treating for Hepatitis C and HIV in these areas, which is an important component for infectious disease control among an at-risk population, particularly IV drug users.
Kolbe Clinic and Kolbe Detox represent the treatment arm of addiction services, while RAP’s goal is to work on training and prevention.
The RAP board has hired Anna Harris as CEO. “Alabama is consistently in the top five states with the worst education systems and some of the highest rates of substance abuse from the limited data that is available,” she said. “I’ve seen the good that a holistic approach to systemic issues can do. That is my hope for RAP. That we are not just treating the symptoms of substance use disorder, but rather, we are focusing on all aspects of SUD. That is, the psychological, social and biological factors that lead to addiction. There is a reason that rural counties have such high rates of drug use, overdose, depression – there is a lack of resources and basic needs being met. If we can remove the stigma of SUD and embrace treatment over punishment, especially at a young age, I believe we can prevent addiction.”
Harris and Wainscott are optimistic about using the grant to improve addiction services around the state, although they acknowledge there is a long way to go.
“What’s our ultimate goal? The perfect case scenario for us would be to have outpatient centers so everyone in Alabama has to drive no more than 40 miles to reach one,” Wainscott said. “Even if that center is only staffed one day a week. Even if its access to counseling or medication or telepsychiatry. Our concept for treatment is if you can’t treat them as an outpatient immediately, then you get them to the appropriate level of treatment and follow up. But when they go back home, there has to be someplace nearby that’s accessible, so they don’t relapse. We’ve done projections, and that means 17 to 22 clinics statewide. We now have six, so we have a lot of work to do.”
Members of the coalition grant to expand treatment prevention services to designated rural areas.
- Area Health Education Centers (AHEC)
- Tallassee police department
- Guntersville police department
- Tallassee Community Hospital
- Rural Addiction Prevention
- Kolbe Clinic
- Mountain Lakes Behavioral Health
Counties targeted by grant:
- Cherokee County
- DeKalb County
- Jackson County
- Marshall County
- Tallapoosa County
- Randolph County
- Tallassee Census Tract 01051030400