$3 million to fund anti-heroin efforts in Maryland

$3 million to fund anti-heroin efforts in Maryland

SALISBURY, Md. - On Monday, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced millions in grant funding to support the fight against addiction.

It will go toward two main efforts: one focusing on getting law enforcement agencies across the whole state working together, and the other focusing on treating individuals.

In total, $2,070,394 will fund the Safe Streets Initiative in fiscal year 2017, among nine agencies, including $164,080 for the Dorchester Community Partnership and $247,973 for the Salisbury Police Department.

Salisbury Police Chief Barbara Duncan tells 47 ABC that she’s especially excited about the Peer Recovery Specialist program, getting addicts who are in recovery to help mentor those working toward recovery.

Dr. Michael Finegan, a Salisbury-based clinical psychologist who serves on the Governor’s Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force, says he’s also excited about the peer recovery specialist program.

Dr. Finegan describes the program as “Individuals that can walk a path with another addict, somebody that has come out the other side, and has a year of sobriety, of abstinence, a change in their lifestyle, is partnered with an individual that is currently in the throes of addiction, struggling, to regain their life.”

Chief Duncan says the program will through the Wicomico County Health Department, which currently has two specialists on staff, and will be getting a third.

Duncan says the funding stream also includes group therapy for the family members of recovering addicts, as well as continuing to fund a Safe Streets prosecutor, a Safe Streets coordinator, and joint-agency efforts/overtime for Delmar PD, Fruitland PD, Salisbury PD, Maryland State Police, and the Wicomico County Sheriff's Office.

These changes are examples of a radical shift in addiction treatment, says Dr. Finnegan, focusing on treating addiction as a disease, and getting law enforcement, healthcare providers, and faith-based groups working together to get drug offenders into care, not just jail.

A total of $931,371 was also announced for funding a heroin coordinator in law enforcement agencies in every region of the state.

According to a statement from the Governor’s Office, “These heroin coordinators will work to ensure that every drug seizure, arrest, and investigation is documented and uploaded into extensive shared databases to give us a clear picture of the paths these deadly drugs take to get into our communities.”

Chief Duncan says she applauds the effort, as the heroin problem is being felt across the state and region, “It makes sense to focus resources more effectively and more consistently.”

For the heroin coordination program in fiscal year 2017, Dorchester County will receive $42,000, Talbot County will receive $30,000, Wicomico County will receive $49,088, and Worcester County will receive $67,648. The Governor’s Office tells 47 ABC that Somerset County did not apply for the grant.


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