New Start Offers New Life for Opioid Addicts in Milledgeville


Drew Oldham, Contributing Writer

Hope for those afflicted by opioid addiction in Milledgeville and surrounding areas has arrived in the form of a new outpatient methadone assisted treatment facility. New Start Milledgeville, which opened in July 2021, is currently rehabilitating 30 patients that qualify for treatment based on requisites enacted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

While satisfied with recent growth in their client base, co-founders George Coley and Marlon Lloyd feel that there are more individuals in the Milledgeville area that are in need of this methadone based treatment. New Start is currently the only local clinic that holds approval from medical governing bodies at both the federal and state level that permit them to administer this treatment.

Opportunities to publicize their clinic and its mission to aid the community have recently emerged. New Start was recently featured in an article and brief TV segment on CBS channel 13 which covers news and developments in Central Georgia. This segment covered a commemorative opening ceremony for New Start on April 1st that was hosted in part by the Milledgeville-Baldwin County Chamber of Commerce.

“We are the only clinic in town that can treat substance abuse disorder with methadone,” said New Start Co-Founder, Marlon Lloyd. “There are a lot of patients in the Milledgeville area who are driving all the way down to Macon to get this treatment. We are now trying to get the word out to them and the community that you do not have to drive an hour away anymore to get this treatment.”

Lloyd feels that one of the main appeals of their newly established clinic is that it is in much closer proximity to patients, which is a major advantage in the process of regular methadone treatment as the convenience greatly reduces travel time and increases the likelihood that the patient will stay on schedule for treatment reception.

Methadone treatment, which has been administered since the late 1960’s, is unique in the fact that it allows addicts to overcome the physical dependence they have developed to substance by minimizing unpleasant withdrawal symptoms to reduce the likelihood that a patient will relapse.

This methadone treatment is then paired with effective cognitive therapy tailored to each individual as part of a strategy known as medication assisted treatment. Coley holds this strategy in high regard, referring to it as the “golden standard” of addiction treatment. Additionally,

Coley believes that the employment of this treatment method greatly decreases a patient’s likelihood of an opioid overdose.

“It relates to overdoses, patients that are in medication assisted treatment reduces their chances of overdose by 60%,” Coley said.

This medication assisted treatment plays a crucial role in New Start’s seven phase program to fully rehabilitate users. The strategy has been well vetted as Coley and Lloyd own another methadone treatment clinic in McDonough, Georgia which has treated hundreds of patients dealing with substance abuse disorder with remarkable results.

As part of this program, New Start develops an individualized treatment program with an ultimate goal of ensuring individuals can return to being productive members of society. Doing so allows reformed addicts to reestablish healthy familial relations, hold down a steady job, and repair damages to their personal lives as a result of irresponsible behavior motivated by addiction.

GC student counselor Pamela Jones provided additional commentary on the danger of irresponsible behavior that is often observed in drug seeking and drug addicted persons, with a focus on college students in particular.

“As an addict to pain pills you will inevitably face a period in which your supply runs out, when it does a doctor is not going to write you a prescription, as a result people will turn to street drugs such as heroin which are cheap and readily available and with a much higher likelihood of overdose,” Jones said.

Jones feels that an addictive lifestyle is unsustainable and often results in a self-perpetuating cycle in which the increased prioritization of drug seeking in the individual’s life inevitably causes other key aspects of their health, social life, and academic performance to rapidly decline.

“It becomes like a vicious beast on your back, and there are real consequences to going down these paths,” Jones said.

This stark warning comes in the context of a perpetually increasing rate of overdose in Georgia, caused in part by a lack of access to walk-in rehabilitation facilities due to Covid-19 concerns, other aspects of the pandemic and an increased presence of drugs contaminated with fentanyl. As a result of this, a record 13,000 Georgians died from overdose in 2020 with all projections predicting that these numbers will only continue to increase.

Despite the growing concern with the increase of statewide addiction and overdoses that come as a result of opioid addiction, it is inspiring to see that a growing demand for a convenient and readily available methadone treatment clinic in the area has been met. The addition of New Start Milledgeville to our community offers many families and communities that have been torn apart by substance abuse solace in knowing that there is a benevolent group working to aid their community with this problem.

George Coley believes that as their facility becomes more well established and intimately connected with the community their treatment can bring radical positive change to the Milledgeville area.

“As you bring wholeness back to the patient and the individual, over time you bring wholeness back to the community,” Coley said. As this clinic grows and expands, hopefully positive change for Milledgeville will along with it.