LAPORTE | A Porter County group that specializes in treating addictions to heroin and other drugs is exploring whether to open a clinic in LaPorte due to ongoing concerns about narcotics use here.
Amber Hensell-Hicks, executive director of Frontline Foundations, will be the guest speaker 7 p.m. Wednesday at Bethany Lutheran Church, 102 G St.
Hensell-Hicks said she was asked by some members of the clergy about the possibility of opening a treatment center in LaPorte.
Hensell-Hicks said she will explain things like how Frontline Foundations operates and to open a clinic in LaPorte there has to be enough financial support from the community.
She said Frontline Foundations is a nonprofit group that gets some of its operating dollars from clients but relies on donations from local governments and other groups to meet daily expenses.
"To keep a qualified staff this is an extremely important component," she said.
Frontline Foundations started in 2007 and has clinics in Valparaiso and Chesterton.
She said about 600 patients have come through their doors, which includes a Biblical component to overcoming substance abuse and counseling sessions among peer groups.
Hensell-Hicks said about 40 percent of their clients relapse during the first year of treatment compared to a 60 percent national average.
The clinic specializes in treating people ages 18 to 29 but soon will begin seeing patients in their 30s as well, she said.
Bethany Lutheran Church Pastor Dennis Meyer and other clergy members approached her about coming to LaPorte as part of a multi-pronged strategy officials have undertaken to combat an ongoing problem with drugs, especially heroin.
"A lot of people are getting mobilized on this and we want to contribute to this effort," said Meyer.
Hensell-Hicks said the heroin problem in Porter County began roughly 15 to 20 years ago then just five or six years ago began having a major presence in LaPorte County.
She said the need in LaPorte County is greater, though, due to having a lot fewer treatment facilities.
In addition to financial assistance, she said there must be a long-term commitment to such a facility by the community.
"We're just inquiring to see if it can be done," said Hensell-Hicks.