Howard County Corrections Awarded SBIRT Grant to Address Addiction

Behavioral Health Systems Baltimore has awarded an $86,000 grant to the Howard County Department of Corrections to establish a Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) program to service pretrial and short sentenced inmates.

SBIRT is an evidence-based process used to identify, reduce, and prevent problematic substance use and dependence; a tool the county hopes will prove helpful in addressing the opioid crisis. The grant allows the county to use SBIRT for the first time in a detention center setting.

As announced by Howard County:

Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman today announced the county Department of Corrections is being given a Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) grant for nearly $86,000 from Behavioral Health System Baltimore to provide early intervention and treatment services to inmates with sentences less than six months or that are being temporarily held awaiting trial.  This is the latest tool in the fight against opioid addiction and is being deployed for the first time in a detention center setting.

“The pervasive opioid problem in our community requires that we have a variety of options available to us to break the cycle of addiction,” said Kittleman. “If we can offer treatment options even among lower-level offenders, we might be able to prevent them from coming back through the system for a longer stay.  The Department of Corrections sees many inmates that can benefit from these early support services.”

The SBIRT program has traditionally proven effective in hospital and other medical settings.  For the first time in a detention center, the grant, awarded for one year, will allow for trained staff to screen inmates, provide advice to at-risk individuals and offer referrals to treatment.  Corrections will partner with existing Howard County Health Department staff providing mental health and addiction services at the detention center.

“We may be able to prevent emergency responses, reduce medical expenses and even save lives if we can help divert these individuals from a path of addiction and crime,” said Jack Kavanagh, Director of Corrections. “This problem must be fought on multiple fronts and we are adding jail as one more place where we can make a difference.  With treatment options, maybe the time incarcerated can be productive.”

MACo will be hosting a forum at our 2017 Summer Conference on the opioid crisis. The Opioid Forum: Combating the Crisis, will be moderated by  Clay Stamp, Executive Director of the Opioid Operational Command Center (OCCC) and will afford attendees the opportunity to ask questions, express concerns, and share best practices on addressing the opioid crisis. The forum will be held on Saturday, August 19, 2017 from 10:00 am – 11:15 am.

The MACo summer conference is August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City Maryland. This year’s theme is “You’re Hired!”.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference: