Gaston County Continues Drug Diversion and Treatment Program
Leaders find funds to keep successful jail substance use recovery program for another year
It saves families. It saves lives. It saves money. So, when funding ran out, the county police chief and manager scraped for the money to keep people out of jails and managing their substance use.
The successful Drug Diversion and Treatment Program was in danger due to budget cuts. Now, with money to continue for another year, Gaston County Police Chief Joseph Ramey and the DDAT committee are focused on making the program better. And their eyes are on what future funding could mean for the community.
The drug diversion and treatment program began in January 2017. Chief Ramey invited community partners to find a more effective approach to solving the opioid and heroin abuse problem in Gaston County. They developed the drug diversion and treatment program to emphasize rehabilitation and treatment over incarceration. Partners Behavioral Health Management provided $266,679 for the initial year of the program.
Like most counties in the US, Gaston County is seeing a spike in prescription and illegal opioid use. This increase is leading to more citizens living with addiction. Along with health problems, overdoses and death, job loss, family stress, and bad environments for children, addiction often leads to crime. Jails are not funded or staffed to treat substance use disorder. Jails are not designed to house and support substance use treatment programs. As a result, 87% of people in jail for crimes related to opioids return to jail after being released, according to Chief Ramey.
“I knew we couldn’t arrest our way out of this,” said Chief Ramey. “We needed to take a more holistic approach to treating folks who are addicted. We have an opportunity to reach people who are at their worst, provide them with treatment, assistance, and training, and see them return to their community as productive citizens.”
During the first year, the treatment program moved 23 participants out of jail and into a treatment facility for up to 120 days of intensive services and supports. The results are a huge success.
- Returned 21 people to society without repeat offenses
- Saved $203,680 in pre-trial housing costs alone
- Avoided spending resources on trial, sentencing, and incarceration
- Provided training for skill-building and employment
- Broke the cycle of repeat offenses and the cost associated
- Connected participants to resources like Peer Support
- Reunited parents and children (for participants with dependents)
- Received endorsement from U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis
Chief Ramey is determined to continue “impacting the community in a positive manner by giving people their lives back.” He worked closely with Gaston County Manager, Earl Mathers, to find $140,000 in one-time funding. Ramey was also awarded an $8,800 grant from The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). The more money the program receives, the more people it can serve for the year.
With an additional $350,000, a vacant building once used as a juvenile detention facility could be remodeled to permanently house the treatment program. A permanent location makes rent and treatment dollars go further, could host other diversion programs, and creates the space to serve more participants at one time. Ramey continues to target local organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and grants to find funding.
Equipping Communities to Fight the Opioid Epidemic
Communities to receive resources to combat opioid misuse and addiction
From 1999 to 2016, more than 12,000 North Carolinians died from opioid-related overdoses. The problem is not just deaths. The opioid crisis devastates every facet of a community. It destroys families. It strains local law enforcement and emergency services. It overwhelms social services and treatment providers. And it depletes prevention efforts.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services calls connecting people with preventative healthcare, substance use disorder treatment, and community supports “a complex issue requiring partnership from many sectors and is an effort that needs to be supported through funding and resources to be successful.”
Partners continues to coordinate local projects to address these complex issues and in support of this effort.
Partners has allotted $2,020,000 from its Medicaid Savings Reinvestment to fight the opioid crisis in its eight-county region over the next 4 years.
- Community Coalition Building & County Project Coordinators: Partners will provide $25,000 matching grants to help county leaders launch programs or hire project coordinator positions for opioid addiction-related projects in their communities. The purpose of this investment is to provide customized, on-the-ground support for community-driven programs for opioid addiction, prevention, education, and treatment. The first funding will be invested in Iredell and Surry counties.
- LEAD Program Expansion: The Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion or LEAD initiative is a pre-booking diversion program developed to redirect low-level offenders engaged in drug activity to community-based programs and services, instead of jail and prosecution. The first funding will be invested in Catawba County.
- Sober Living Houses: Sober living environments are especially designed for those who want to maintain abstinence from alcohol and drugs. Maintaining abstinence is difficult without a stable, drug-free environment following treatment, so sober living houses provide a safe and supportive place for people in recovery to live during their first months sober. The first funding will be invested in Oxford Houses in Gaston and Iredell counties.
- Overdose Response Teams: Partners will provide matching grants to help county leaders and local providers form active response teams. The teams are designed to personally reach out to people who have experienced a recent overdose rescue and engage them in treatment for addiction. The first funding will be invested in Burke and Gaston counties.
- Office-Based Opioid Treatment: Since opioid addiction is a chronic medical condition similar to other chronic conditions, Office-Based Opioid Treatment or OBOT expands the availability of care into primary care physicians’ offices. This is the treatment of opiate addiction with medication in a doctor’s office, outside of the clinical system. Partners will invest in this type of treatment to expand access to more people in its catchment area.
Partners budgeted $13.4 million to use from 2018-2021 as direct funding for projects in local communities within the eight-county region. Visit Partner’s transparency page to read how it plans to use cost-savings from Medicaid for projects essential to better community health.
In the Community
Child and Family Team: Part 1
Part 1 of Child and Family Team training will be held on February 13 and 14, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., at Children’s Hope Alliance, Little John’s Chapel, West Room, 107 Grannis Lane, Troutman, NC. “An Introduction to Child and Family Teams: A Cross System Training from the Family’s Perspective” is a two-day, experiential training with a goal of providing an overview of Child and Family Team meetings from the family’s perspective. The training seeks to reinforce the idea of “one family, one plan” by addressing Child and Family Teams through the lens of multiple systems as they affect families in their everyday lives. Agency representatives and parents and family members over 18 years of age are encouraged to attend this free training. Register online by Friday, February 9. Sessions must have a minimum of 10 participants. For more information contact Kim Rhoads at 828-323-8049 or email@example.com.
Iredell County Community Action with Compassion: Substance Use Education, Engagement, and Empowerment Forum
Partners Behavioral Health Management, Drug -Alcohol Abuse Free Iredell Coalition, and Iredell County Health Department invite you to join them as they learn how the community can come together to support substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts in Iredell County. This is a free event is on Saturday, February 17, 2018, from 8 a.m.–4 p.m., at Williamson’s Chapel United Methodist Church, 575 Brawley School Rd., Mooresville, NC. Individuals, parents, families, school staff, law enforcement, community leaders, and faith based organizations are encouraged to attend. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Please register online to reserve your seat. Please contact Jill St. Clair at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-871-3450 with any additional questions or dietary restrictions.
Grandparent and Kinship Caregivers Support Group
Grandparents and kinship caregivers who are raising children can attend a support group to share ideas, concerns, fears, and frustrations about being a parent to their grandchildren. The principle value of this group is the emphasis on caregivers as the experts about their own children. From this group, you learn new ways to cope with the anger, frustration, and disappointment parenting can sometimes bring and you will celebrate milestones in your journeys toward being the best caregiver you can be. The support group advocates for grandfamily rights, learns about grandfamily resources, and provides support to one another. The group meets year-round on Thursdays from 5-7 p.m. at Oak Hill Elementary. Food and childcare is provided. For more information contact, Lisa Schell at 828-502-9786 or email@example.com, or Mike Massey at 828-502-9306 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Partners Health Summit: TREATING the OPIOID CRISIS
Learn about local solutions and treatments for North Carolina’s Opioid Epidemic at this free educational conference, sponsored by Partners Behavioral Health Management. Keynote Speaker Dr. Omar Manejwala, M.D. presents “Wicked problems” – complex systems with components that interact in complicated, poorly understood, and unpredictable ways. SAVE THE DATE! April 6, 2018, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., at the Hickory Metro Convention Center, 1960 13th Avenue Drive SE, Hickory, NC 28602. ADMISSION IS FREE! Registration opens soon!
Behavioral Health Focus is published on the first and third Tuesday of each month and is intended to be a source of information for those working or interacting with behavioral health care in Burke, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Surry and Yadkin Counties. If you would like to contribute, contact Jeff Brucato at 704-884-2564 or email@example.com. Items should be submitted by Wednesday at 3 p.m. for the next week’s issue.