Heroin Task Force Recommendations Provide Counties Support

The final report released by the Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force included many comprehensive and state-wide recommendations, across seven topic areas, to help all communities and residents in Maryland.

This post highlights a few of the recommendations that are of interest and assistance to local jurisdictions in particular and updates on the implementation of county-related preliminary recommendations from the interim report.

Recommendations Providing Counties Support

Authorizing the Opioid-Associated Disease Prevention and Outreach Program

The Task Force recommends legislation authorizing any Maryland county to establish an Opioid-Associated Disease Prevention and Outreach Program to provide outreach, education, and linkage to treatment services, including the exchange of sterile syringes, to people who inject drugs.

MACo supported with amendments legislation introduced by Delegate Lam during the 2015 session that would have authorized a sterile needle and syringe exchange program to operate in each jurisdiction.

Institutionalizing a Substance Use Goal into the Maryland Safe Streets Initiative

The Task Force recommends that the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention incorporate a new goal into Safe Streets that will allow the local Safe Streets coalition to address the issue of violent crime related to drug trafficking, substance use and addiction, with a focus on heroin and opioids.

Safe Street programs are collaborative, offender-based efforts, between GOCCP and local jurisdictions to reduce crime through information sharing, collaboration and coordination across a coalition of local agency partners.

Creating a User-Friendly Educational Campaign on School Websites

The Task Force recommends that the Maryland State department of Education assist local school boards in the development and promotion of a drug education and information segment on school websites.

This recommendation includes a two part “If Only I had Known…” campaign. One geared toward parents and caregivers. The other geared to students. These campaigns would be accessible from the schools’ websites and student portals.

Recently Approved Resource Allocations for Counties

The Task Force Report also detailed nine new grants, totaling $608,832, awarded to county agencies through the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention to tackle the opioid and heroin crisis. Awarded entities included: Allegany County State’s Attorney’s Office; The Family Recovery Program, Inc. Baltimore City; Hamstead Police Department, Carroll County; The Center for Children, Inc, Charles County; Charles County Circuit Court; Howard County Department of Corrections; St. Mary’s County Detention Center; Montgomery County Police Department; and Somerset County Local Management Board.

Updates on Interim Report Resource Allocations for Counties

Providing Community-Based Naloxone Training and Distribution

The interim report directed the Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) to provide $500,000 in supplemental grants to local health departments to support the Overdose Response Program (ORP).  The final report notes that in October BHA competitively awarded nearly $800,00 in grants to 20 Local Addictions Authorities (LAA) to support naloxone training and distribution under the ORP in FY 16. Each of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions has a designated LAA that is “responsible for planning, managing, and monitoring publicly funded substance use disorder services.” Many are housed in the county’s health department while some are housed in other departments.  The awarded proposals included innovative outreach and community collaboration plans in addition to naloxone training. The $800,000 grant dollars resulted from a combination of $500,000 in supplemental State funding and nearly $300,000 of “one-time only” federal funds.

Piloting Naloxone Distribution to Individuals Screened Positive for Opioid Use Disorder at Release from Local Detention Centers

The interim report allocated $150,000 in supplemental grants from BHA to three Southern Maryland LHDs — Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s Counties — to implement pilot programs in partnership with their local detention centers targeting individuals at high-risk for overdose being released from incarceration. These counties were selected to pilot the program because of their high rates of overdose deaths, limited distribution of naloxone through the ORP, and lack programs that have received Evzio. The final report notes that in October BHA awarded approximately $50,000 to each county after reviewing their program proposals. The money will be used for inmate eligibility screenings, trainings held by health department staff in the jails, training of inmates under the ORP curriculum and the purchase of naloxone to be provided to the inmates upon release.

For more information read the final report and previous coverage on Conduit Street.

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