SIDNEY — The Sidney Addict Assistant Team (SAAT) through the Sidney Police Department works to help addicts in the area that are working through recovery or would like to begin their recovery journey.
The SAAT was started in 2016 when the opiate pandemic started to get out of control in Ohio. The team’s goal is to help addicts in the area find resources to help them throughout their recovery. SAAT Coordinator Julie Clay recently started as the program coordinator, but has been involved since its inception through her work with the Shelby County Counselors.
Clay reaches out to organizations in the area such as New Vision and the Mercy Mission House to build relationships with those organizations to let them and the people they help know that the SAAT program is there to help connect them with other resources for detox and recovery in Sidney. Clay also reaches out to addicts who have overdosed, typically within the week, simply to let them know that she is there if they should want her help.
“Anytime somebody overdoses in the county or the city limits, we try to get out and see them within 24 hours or a week, depending on if we are able to catch up to them, and just reach out to them to let them know that somebody’s there and that somebody cares and try to engage them in services and try to get them into recovery. From that point, we follow up with them as well, it’s about building rapport, building connections with them and letting them know that they’re not the only ones, they’re not alone and that there’s resources out there,” said Clay.
Not only does Clay initially reach out to these individuals at the beginning, she continues to check in on them as often as they would like, even if it is just with a text message letting them know she is thinking of them and is there for them.
“Just to make sure that they know I’m here, I’m listening and I’m encouraging them to keep going because recovery is difficult. When you get into recovery you have to change everything in your life; all the people you’ve been around, all the places that you’re used to going to. These people that you’re hanging out with become your family because those are the people you’re with 24/7 and they’re not healthy realtionships when you’re trying to get clean and you’re trying to stay sober so you have to develop new ones and that’s scary, and it’s hard. We want to make sure that we give them those resources to be able to do that,” said Clay.
Clay and the Community Resource Officer Bryce Stewart typically go out into the community once a week to make new connections and check in with old ones in the community to keep the rapport between the team and those they help. Occassionally the two are joined by case managers from the Family Resource Center.
While the team has multiple ways of reaching out to the community, Clay wants to ensure that the community knows that they can reach out to her. Those in active addiction or even loved ones of someone struggling with addiction can call Clay at 937-498-8781 for help finding recovery resources in the area.
“If they know anybody or maybe if they have someone that they’re concerned about and they just want us to go talk to, I’ve done that as well. Sometimesfamily members just need somebody to talk to as well because they’re struggling to understand and to know what is the right thing to do. So we try to encourage them and give them resources as well so that they don’t feel like they’re alone in the battle either,” said Clay.
The Sidney Daily News conducts a periodic interview to update readers with news from the Sidney Police Department, 234 W. Court St., Sidney.