Madison County plans to include $500,000 for heroin addiction treatment in a budget proposal set to be released on Wednesday.
According to a county press release, funding would attach to the Mental Health Board budget which would seek a medication assisted treatment (MAT) provider. The provider would offer programs for people addicted to prescription opioids and heroin.
County Board chairman Kurt Prenzler said the county presently lacks resources to treat addiction.
“Many of the addicts are unable to get help unless they get arrested,” he stated in a press release. “The solution shouldn’t be you need to end up in jail to get treatment because that is costing the county.”
Drug overdose deaths in Madison County rose from seven in 2009 to 71 in 2016, according to the county.
Prenzler added that he hopes the county board approves the expenditure as it will go towards saving lives.
Jennifer Roth, executive director of the Mental Health Board, described drug addiction as an illness that if untreated can be fatal.
The Mental Health Board would be responsible for putting together a request for proposals to bring in a provider that would treat the addicted.
In a related development, a pilot program at the Madison County Jail to treat addicted inmates with Vivitrol, a drug that stops heroin cravings for a month at a time, got under way last week.
The “Behind the Walls” program is being funded by a $540,000 shared grant received through Madison County Drug Court.
“We are hopeful this will be a successful program,” said Sheriff John Lakin. “We recognize there is an opioid crisis that is causing a lot of issues.”
In 2014, Madison County established a Heroin Task Force to look for ways to combat the growing epidemic, according to the county press release.
“I am fighting every day to keep heroin dealers off the street,” said State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons. “We have to deal with those that are addicted as well and it’s better to do it before they are arrested or overdose.”