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Cornerstone Opens 'Sister' Addiction Recovery Program That Accepts Tenncare/Medicaid

Lindsay Danis remembers in the most hopeless era of her life calling and trying to find addiction treatment — in between using the narcotic drugs again.

Danis had state-sponsored insurance — TennCare. But finding a recovery facility that would take TennCare and had an open bed was daunting. Many facilities have a limited number of Medicaid beds, and it’s necessary to call daily to see if one has opened. Danis had more options if she looked out of town, but transportation was an issue — in her addiction, she’d pushed family and friends to the point of no longer being able to help her, and the friends she had left used drugs themselves.

“By the time I was to the point that I realized this was a serious problem and I needed help, putting in the kind of effort necessary to get that help was not plausible,” Danis said. “Every second of every day, my thought was, ‘How can I get my next fix?’ ”

More: Here's what new Tennessee opioid restrictions mean at your doctor's office and pharmacy

Cornerstone opens 'sister' addiction recovery program that accepts TennCare/Medicaid Knoxville News Sentinel

'Gap' in services

That’s why Danis, 35, and now clean for two years later this month, was so happy to see Cornerstone of Recovery, where she works as a therapeutic assistant, open Stepping Stone, a lower-cost drug-alcohol recovery facility that accepts Medicaid, including TennCare.

“One of the mission statements of Cornerstone is to meet the needs of the community,” said Stepping Stone program director Rod Jackson. “We found it was a gap in services this community needed.”

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Rod Jackson is director of Stepping Stone, a residential rehab facility that has newly begun accepting TennCare patients. (Photo: Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel)

Billed as a “sister” facility to Louisville, Tennessee-based Cornerstone, which now occupies a 23-acre campus on Alcoa Highway, Stepping Stone provides medical detox, intensive outpatient therapy, partial hospitalization/day programs, recovery coaching, support, after care — and, when necessary, residential care.

The facility, housed in Cornerstone’s original building at 1214 Topside Road in Louisville, has 46 residential treatment beds, in addition to 34 beds for people who need supported housing while moving to a lower level of care.

“What makes us unique is that we offer a full continuum of care, so we are able to provide not only a medical detox here, but we can also offer the residential treatment, the partial treatment, the intensive outpatient therapy and, definitely, a continuous care program” for a minimum of 18 months, though some people use it for five years or longer, Jackson said.

Residential inpatient treatment can be scarce

For people on TennCare, residential inpatient treatment is a bit scarce. The facilities offering it often have lengthy waiting lists — and when people decide they want help, Jackson and Danis said, it’s best to strike while the iron is hot. Before, Cornerstone had to refer those patients to other area facilities, which may not have had immediate openings.

“Some places would say, ‘Come to our detox, and then we’ll see what happens,’ ” Danis said. “But if I detoxed (and then didn’t go immediately into a recovery program), I knew I would go right back out and use again.”

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Rooms provide comfortable bedding and shelf space for patients at Stepping Stone at 1214 Topside Road in Louisville, Tenn., on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. Stepping Stone is a residential rehab facility that has newly begun accepting TennCare patients. (Photo: Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel)

Right now, Stepping Stone has no waiting list. It’s also unusual among facilities that accept TennCare because it doesn’t provide the medication-assisted therapy — such as buprenorphine, or Suboxone — that the state has lately pushed as its prime solution to what’s become labeled the “opioid crisis.” In Tennessee in 2016, more than 1,600 people died of drug overdoses, most of them from opioid drugs.

More: Report: Knox County drug-related deaths up by 31 percent, with fentanyl taking major toll

Instead, like Cornerstone, Stepping Stone uses different types of psychotherapy, also evidence-based, Jackson said.

Stepping Stone clients get “the very same services that Cornerstone is known for providing,” he said.

Focus on critical factors

The main difference may be length of stay, which different TennCare plans limit in different ways. That’s going to necessitate being “really focused” on the factors most crucial to subverting someone’s addiction, Jackson said.

“If you show up, and you’ve got five major problems … we’ve got to figure out which are the two critical that keep you using, and address those with everything we’ve got right off the bat,” he said. “Because if we don’t do that, we’ve only contributed to the problem. We’ve only interrupted it. We’ve put a Band-Aid on the cancer.”

The best treatment plans are always triage, he added.

That doesn’t mean people will be discharged from treatment before they have the tools to succeed at recovery, he said, just that Stepping Stone will work out treatment within the parameters of what TennCare requires.

“The longer a person stays engaged in active treatment, the better their chances of sustaining long-term recovery,” Jackson said. With Stepping Stone, “we have a decent enough length of engagement that we can have some real effect.”

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