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From Rock Bottom to Recovery – CCBHCs Save Lives

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Nicholas Thomas

Director of Content Marketing, National Council for Behavioral Health

From Rock Bottom to Recovery – CCBHCs Save Lives

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Aaron Keller (left), with from Ozark Center staff.

Aaron Keller had hit rock bottom.

He started using methamphetamines when he was 13. After marrying at 18, he began selling drugs to support his habit. In a single year, Aaron was arrested more than 20 times. At 24, he was sent to prison for 26 months where he continued to use drugs in the wake of his divorce.

“I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. Two years after quitting meth at 27, I had an injury and was hooked on hydrocodone. I found myself once again in active addiction,” said Aaron, a Joplin, Mo., resident and father of three. “One day, while at a park with my son, I nodded off because I was high on pain pills. My son woke me up. I didn’t know how long I had been out. Anything could have happened to him. I decided that day I had to quit for good. But this time, I couldn’t stop with my willpower alone.”

With nowhere else to turn, Aaron sought treatment at a nearby methadone clinic and began taking Suboxone. Although the medication helped him for five years, Aaron wondered what additional support was available. While at the clinic, he heard about Ozark Center’s New Directions program, which was developed as a result of the provider’s designation as a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC). Ozark Center connected Aaron with a therapist, doctor and peer specialists, and a personalized plan was created to help him regain control of his life.

Cuts in funding and insufficient reimbursement rates are negatively impacting the behavioral health workforce, preventing providers from delivering quality mental health and addiction treatment services in communities across the country. CCBHCs are shifting the odds for providers and their patients.

CCBHCs receive an enhanced Medicaid reimbursement rate based on their anticipated costs of care for providing nine required services, which enables providers to expand access to community-based mental health and addiction treatment. Established through the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act, CCBHCs are a sustainable federal investment in the mental health and addiction infrastructure.

The CCBHC designation has bolstered the workforce. In 2018, 47 CCBHCs hired a total of 2,143 new staff – an average of 48 staff per provider. This has led to increased access to providers and services and, in turn improved health outcomes for people in need.

Today, Aaron is in recovery. He is a full-time single father, soccer coach, school volunteer and an active member of his community.

“I have a great relationship with my family now, and I am excited to see what comes my way,” said Aaron, who credits the Ozark Center and the integrated care possible through CCBHCs with his recovery. “At the height of my addiction, I felt suicidal every day. Now I look forward to a better future.”

To learn more about Aaron’s story, listen to our podcast. To discover how CCBHCs are saving lives and strengthening communities, contact us.

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