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Lebanon addiction treatment facility at capacity

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Dr. Crystal Jones was born at Witham Hospital in Lebanon, Indiana and spent her childhood summers at her grandparent’s farm outside of Lebanon.

The path that brought her back to Lebanon, specifically to a medical practice that treats addiction, is not exactly a textbook career path. 

Jones is an infectious disease doctor, she trained at Indiana University and until coming back to Lebanon, she worked in Indianapolis.

A few years ago, she saw an increase in younger patients with hepatitis C.

“A lot of these patients, many of them had acquired hep C by heroin use,” she said. “So we started seeing who is treating their heroin addiction because I really can’t treat their hep C as long as they’re actively using. No one was doing it in our community.”

She found there was not a medically-supervised addiction treatment facility in the county, so she filled the void.  

But there is a catch.

Under the federal rule known as DATA (Drug Addiction Treatment Act), there is a limited to the number of patients a medically-supervised treatment facility can see at one time. Under the current rules, Dr. Jones is limited to 70 patients. A nurse practitioner in her office is allowed to see 30.  

Boone County, like many rural Indiana counties, has had its fair share of addiction problems. 

“I was used to dealing with sort of the older, long-term drug use community, the HIV community and I was a little surprised that Boone County, where I came as a child to play on my grandparent’s farm, had this much hepatitis C,” said Jones. 

The treatment of addiction in her clinic is done in concert with mental health providers and prescription medication. Patients come once a week for counseling and assessment. If the patient is improving, appointments are moved to twice a month and eventually once a month. The expected length of treatment is 18 to 14 months. 

News 8 asked Dr. Jones if the addiction problems are worse than commonly believed.

“I think there are a lot of people that have no idea,” Jones said. “I think there are a lot of people that have their heads in the sand [and] that they don’t really want to know. I think there are a lot of people that have stereotyped the addict.” 

Jones and her colleagues are moving to a new clinic sometime this year. The new clinic will offer some much-needed space, but that doesn’t mean she will be accepting new patients.