In 2017, President Donald Trump declared the country's opioid crisis a national emergency. You may remember back in August, we saw a wave of overdoses in less than 72 hours. Investigators believed those cases were linked to fake Percocet pills. Dozens were hospitalized and four people died.

This Thursday, River Edge Behavioral Health Center is launching a new treatment program to help patients in recovery. “With all the people that continue to die of opioid overdoses, there's a real critical need to get treatment out there,” said Paul Seales with the Medical Center Navicent Health. “We do have major problems with opioids in Middle Georgia. I think a lot of people are aware we've had some overdose and even some deaths.”

Now, River Edge Behavioral Health Center is launching a new 12-step treatment program and clinic funded by the federal 21 Century Cures Act approved two years ago. The center hopes to treat up to 50 patients who struggle with opioid abuse. “Multiple sites around the state are expanding treatment for opioid problems by using a relatively new medication called Buprenorphine or Suboxone,” said Seale.

Paul Seales with the Medical Center says that's a treatment drug that weakens the cravings and withdrawal symptoms for opioids. “The medication is taken under the tongue and it's absorbed by the mouth.”

Even though the treatment is a type of opioid, Seale says it can be effective. “It was manufactured for this specific use. It can create a dependence, but once you start taking it and you say you don't want to take this anymore, then we taper it off,” said Seales.

The treatment center will be open on Thursdays from 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. Seales says anyone seeking treatment must undergo an assessment. Jamie Dickson with the Health Center says the cost of the program is dependent upon your insurance plan, but if you or someone you know would like to enroll in the program call at 478-803-7670.