Akron Addiction Treatment Program Helps Children


An addiction treatment program is helping children at Akron’s Children Hospital, Ohio who struggle with substance use disorder in Summit County.

Akron Children’s Hospital’s new addiction treatment program is receiving $800,000 in funding from donations, including $300,000 from a family that lost one of their family members to opioid abuse.

Brian and Lea Apostolakis lost their 21-year-old daughter Alyssa to opioid abuse. For years Alyssa wanted to become a drug abuse counselor. However, due to her own issues with substance abuse, she was not able to fulfill that goal. Now, her parents have donated money in her name to help make her goal a reality.

In 2015, they founded Fighting for Alyssa (FFA) which was a nonprofit organization devoted to the awareness, prevention and treatment of substance abuse in the community. Their primary focus is adolescents and young adults who struggle with substance use disorder.

The intent of FFA is to raise money through different fundraising events and allocate the money earned to local groups who help promote education, awareness of treatment of substance abuse.

Thanks to some funding from FFA, Alyssa’s parents were able to secure the money for the new addiction treatment program at Akron Children’s Hospital.

The substance abuse treatment program was announced this week and will focus on prevention efforts and education. Another place of focus for this program was screening care coordination, reaching out to the community and obtaining referrals for children who are in hospitals throughout Ohio. As the addiction treatment program progresses, they will start to add medication-assisted treatment for any person needing it.

Akron Children’s Hospital President Grace Wakulchik stated that Ohio has the second most drug-related overdoses in the U.S.

Preliminary data indicated that there has been 13 drug-related overdoses in Summit County in 2018, according to the Summit County Opioid Task Force. The data shows that 224 people died from a drug-related overdose in 2017.

Preliminary data from the task force shows that there has already been 248 opioid-related hospital visits in 2018. The Task Force also indicated that there were 2,312 opioid-related hospital visits in 2017.

Wakulchik said that her hospital felt the demand to plan their strategies better with the ultimate goal of preventing teenagers and children from falling down the same path of substance abuse as adults have.

The Opiate Task Force (OTF) has underlined a strategic plan in an effort to educate people better on the topic of opioid addiction. Among their plans for young adults and children is to increase the access to opioid awareness education and outreach for adolescents in schools.

Another goal was to increase the adolescent involvement in OTF subcommittees and engagement in youth headed prevention efforts.

One of their objectives include raising the workforce capacity to apply prevention education. Another purpose for the task force is to use all the resources of the Ohio Department of Education opiate syllabus that will be given in the next year. The next objectives include collaborating with members of the community on providing new locations for education and outreach, ensuring that higher education provides avenues for education and enlisting adolescents to help their peers.

This addiction treatment program will be another added to a hospital that already includes Haslinger Family Pediatric Palliative Care Center.

The Palliative Care Center, which has two facilities in Akron, has served as an ideal example in giving care to children and young adults that struggle with serious mental conditions. The addiction treatment services being added have placed a new focus on substance abuse in children and young adults.

Sarah Friebert, the founder of the Palliative Care Center, stated that young children often start with other drugs before moving onto opioids. She highlighted that the staff is starting to see the results of the opioid epidemic that include pregnant teenage mothers to infants accidentally consuming them.

She said that her facility will be the epicenter for a majority of the inpatient and outpatient services for this program.