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  • Board accepts grant to combat opioid addiction

    Oct 16, 2018 | Read More News
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    Stock photo: Recreational Drug PacketThe Pima County Board of Supervisors today accepted a three-year, $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) intended to expand and enhance local efforts to combat opioid addiction.
    The funding for the Unified Medication Assisted Treatment Targeted Engagement Response (U-MATTER) program will provide peer navigators, counselors trained in medication assisted treatment, to respond with law enforcement officers when they encounter addicts in the field. Counselors will refer those individuals to treatment programs rather than jail.
    “These are community residents that we know will not succeed in jail because of their addictions,” said Terrance Cheung, Pima County’s Director of Justice Reform Initiatives.  “Identifying community-treatment resources as alternatives to jail serves those in need better and saves taxpayers money because we’re not over incarcerating.”
    Data from the Medical Examiner’s Office show overdose deaths increased 20 percent between 2010 and 2017. Last year 239 of the 328 overdose deaths recorded in Pima County included some sort of opiate, with 89 percent of those deaths ruled accidental overdoses.
    Navigators will come from Codac Health Recovery and Wellness, the County’s only provider of round-the-clock behavioral health and addiction treatment services. The University of Arizona’s Southwest Institute for Research on Women (SIROW) will be assessing the effectiveness of the grant. In addition, 15 local law enforcement officers, including members of the Sheriff’s Department's Mental Health Support Team, and program staffers will receive training in Mental Health First Aid and other techniques proven to be effective in preventing overdose deaths.
    The County Administrator’s Criminal Justice Reform Unit will oversee the program.  A program manager will be hired to administer the grant program.