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Heroin in Porter County

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Guest Commentary



I would like to respond to the many recent articles about heroin being a problem in Porter County. Historically, this area had been a drug corridor from Chicago to Detroit to New York City. For many years this was a secret, as all subcultures are. The advent of increased media, communications and the diligent efforts of law enforcement have focused the attention on users and arrests.

Our local criminal justice system is overwhelmed and they are looking for solutions. Too many times our county has distributed scant resources to too many providers and the services become fragmented and help very few people. I would suggest that we look in our own backyard for help. Too often we have made efforts to solve problems by bringing or sending someone from out of the county to help us. We already have help right here. Porter-Starke Services has had a Chemical Dependency and Addictions program for 25 years. People come to us because we have a track record of providing the help they need. We do not pretend to be able to solve all of their problems, but I guarantee, that we will find them help.

Our Intensive Outpatient Program utilizes a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy program. You cannot change a person’s substance seeking patterns unless you address the way that they think. If you change the way that they think, you can change the way they behave. We also utilize this program model at the Porter County Jail. Porter-Starke services has two Master’s Degree level therapist’s that deliver intensive outpatient services at the jail to people who have been identified by Sheriff David Reynolds as having a substance abuse problem.

Porter-Starke Services therapists routinely deliver drug education classes at area schools. We have been invited to give presentations at Valparaiso University, Indiana University, Valparaiso, Hobart, Portage and Chesterton Schools. We have taken a leadership role in partnering with community groups to better identify the problems and to come up with some possible treatment alternatives.

We provide services to people who walk in off the street, to people who have completed the program at the jail and want to continue, we get referrals from all over the nation and help doctors, nurses and other professionals with their substance abuse problems. We deliver services to people on Federal Probation, state parolees, and county probationers and just about anyone who walks through our door.

Current research coupled with our experience has shown that 65% of the people who present for services have an underlying psychiatric diagnosis. We have a treatment team of trained professionals who will recognize these diagnoses and make the appropriate referral to the Porter-Starke Services Psychiatric Associates.

We are very cognizant that many of the people who come here for substance abuse services, especially for heroin dependence, need medication to help them make that transition to being drug-free. We make sure that these persons will see the appropriate doctor or be referred to the appropriate program for help. In most cases, that will be a methadone or buprenorphine program.

Recovery takes time. Many ‘old school’ thinkers believe that 28 days in treatment is a sufficient amount of time to make someone well again. Drug addiction demands much more than this to heal. Some people have been using for years and it may take years for them to change the way they think, the way they behave and the way they live. Our Chemical Dependency and Addictions program will give them the direction they need.

Carmen Pearman-Arlt is the Director of Chemical Dependency & Addictions at Porter-Starke Services, Inc. For more information on programming, contact Porter-Starke in Valparaiso (219) 531-3681, Portage (219) 762-9557 or Knox (574) 772-4040 or visit


Posted 3/26/2004