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MERRILLVILLE — A new addiction intervention company opened here recently, hoping to expand drug treatment in the Region.

True Interventions tries to get people with addiction into rehab all across the country, including Northwest Indiana.

"We're not hurting for business," said Guy Quenzler, director of operations.

America is in the midst of an epidemic of opioid overdose deaths, driven lately by the rise of fentanyl, a drug 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin. Northwest Indiana had a record number of drug overdose deaths in 2017 (Porter County, at least, has seen a dip so far this year).

But True Interventions officials say methamphetamine use is making a comeback. The abuse of benzodiazepines is big. And alcoholism hasn't gone away.

"It's really big that people, especially in our Region, know how to find help," said Herb Stepherson, intervention coordinator and director of outreach. "Few people know there's intervention companies right in their backyard."

The business sends intervention coordinators — it has them contracted from San Diego to Philadelphia — out to wherever in the country a person with addiction needs help. The family of that person hires the firm, then spends a couple of days with the coordinator, before confronting the person and demanding he go to treatment. Ultimatums are made (the process became famous in the TV show "Intervention").

Often, True Interventions employees say, the families need as much help as the person struggling with addiction. They often had been enabling the person: giving her money, letting her live under their roof, rent-free.

"If the family doesn't change, the addict never will," Stepherson said. "We want to get the family empowered to handle Timmy in the future."

"They get just as sick as the addict," clinical director Lynda Sward said. "What we do is give them a voice."

The interventions start at $4,800, but the company says it is willing to work with people who can't afford the fee.

About 90 percent of the company's interventions are for substance abuse, yet it also will intervene for people with untreated mental illnesses or addictions to things like gambling or hoarding.

True Interventions' eight-person staff came from another local intervention company based in Lowell, Interventions Services Inc. They asserted they left because that business was being sold. Former staffers also recently founded another intervention company, USA Interventions, in Highland.

Interventions Services owner Kevin Lee declined to comment, other than to say, "The company is not sold, and I did not want to lose my employees."

At a recent open house for True Interventions, officials from local jails, police departments and coroner's offices came to learn more about the company.

"I've seen firsthand the effects drug use and abuse can have on the community," Portage Police Chief Troy Williams said. "There are not enough resources."

Quenzler said about 5 percent of the interventionists' previous business was in Northwest Indiana but he hopes to increase that to 20 percent.

"We're just a phone call away for everybody," he said. "The process really works. I have two daughters who are alive and well because of it. It's the best thing you can do for a family to get them on track."

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Health Reporter

Giles is the health reporter for The Times, covering the business of health care as well as consumer and public health. He previously wrote about health for the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World. He is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.