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Roadside Signs Offer Hope for Opioid Addicts

They're nearly impossible to miss while driving down the streets of Knoxville.

The roadside signs dot the streets around the city advertising drug addiction treatment and promising hope.

Some look like they're homemade, while other simply look low cost.

"They're effective, and cost effective, too, as far as an advertising standpoint," said Stacey Maltman, owner of Maltman Medical Center and Victory Treatment Program. "It gets the word out. It's at intersections where people are stopped and can read the information."

The small signs hang on telephone poles and sit on street corners around town.

While not all of the signs are legitimate, many offer a lifeline for people who desperately need help with their battles with addiction.

Even though she is a primary care provider, the majority of Maltman's patients now come to her for Vivitrol treatment. The monthly medication helps stop drug cravings.

"Last May we had eight Vivitrol patients and now we currently have 96," said Maltman. "We keep track of everything and 'how'd you hear about us' is on our paperwork. A lot of them are because of the signs."

The advertisements are a clear sign of the times.

With hundreds of people dying each year from suspected drug overdoses, clinics are doing everything they can to try and reach patients.

"It puts some things in perspective in our community for how big a problem we are dealing with," said Hilde Phipps with the Helen Ross McNabb Center. "I think what it says to me is that there is a great need in our community."

Phipps urges everyone to do research to ensure that a provider is legitimate when calling a phone number displayed on a roadside sign.

"When a problem gets this big, unfortunately not everybody who comes in to do the work has the history, the commitment, dedication and understanding of the illness fully and the way it needs to be," Phipps said.

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