Portman’s staff discuss opiate crisis funding

A wealth of new federal resources aimed at combating America’s drug crisis is heading toward local communities and the U.S. Senator largely responsible for shaping much of the legislation sent two of his staff to Logan County to address the issue.

Stephen White, Central Ohio director for Sen. Rob Portman’s office, and the senator’s grant coordinator, Jason Knox, were on hand Thursday at Logan County Job and Family Services to discuss ways leaders here can apply for a variety of grants that are now available.

“We want to make sure Logan County has all the tools it needs in its toolbox to fight the opiate epidemic head on and save lives,” White said. “The federal government has a role to play in this, but saving lives happens at the local level. We want to make sure the money is getting to where it needs to be.”

The three major areas Logan County needs to help, include funding an inpatient detox and rehabilitation center, increasing law enforcement officers on the Logan County Joint Drug Task Force and restoring funding to what was recently lost for preventative programs aimed at youths, Tammy Nicholl of the Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Services Board of Logan and Champaign Counties said.

But Logan County also recently suffered a blow after an announcement that funding was being suspended for a counselor who works full-time with inmates at the Logan County Jail, Angie Hackley of the Logan County Sheriff’s Office said. Krista Henry, the counselor who provides the jail services through Consolidated Care Inc., will continue to work with the inmates through temporary funding being provided by MHDAS.

The grant-funded position is the primary link between inmates at the jail and the local recovery services community. With no medical detox facility nearby, the jail is often used as a place to get people with substance abuse medically detoxified to a point where they can be prescribed addiction treatment drugs like naltrexone that reduce cravings caused by drug addiction.

“If that ends, people placed in the jail will be filtered back into the community with no real barrier to going back to using,” Henry said of the grant.

Read complete story in Friday's Examiner
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