MEDFORD, Ore.– A new approach to helping those suffering from addiction is currently under development in Jackson County. The county’s community justice department and the sheriff’s office are preparing to start a new medication-assisted treatment program.
The idea – to lower the number of crimes committed by chronic abusers and get these people the help they need. The program has been in the works for quite some time but plans are just starting to take shape.
Ultimately, the sheriff’s office says it wants to help people get the medication they need to put an end to their addiction.
“We’re really hoping to help these individuals make different choices and start that within our jail,” said Sheriff Nathan Sickler.
Medication-assisted treatment or MAT as it’s called is a new program under development. According to Sheriff Sickler, it’s a voluntary opportunity to help repeat criminals struggling with addiction.
“This is a chance for us to reach those individuals and give them an option while they’re serving a stint in jail,” he said.
This program is being mirrored off of similar ones at other jails. However, the county’s program will start small. So far, the idea is for eight beds to be set aside for MAT. Probation violators can volunteer for the program, then get a bed and receive help.
“That way there’s some flexibility with the probation officer with how long they stay there and then move out to the transition center or into a treatment program – whatever is most suitable,” said Sheriff Sickler.
He says it comes at a cost. While dollar figures haven’t been determined just yet, he says some medications are expensive. He says some medications can run over $1,000 a month or per shot. Along with that cost, there’s other overhead including the doctors who have to administer the shots.
In order to cope with that cost, the plan is to partner with the Oregon Health Authority to assist in paying that cost. The big picture is about helping all community members.
“the thought is two-fold. one is your providing the individual with a better chance for a positive outcome but your also protecting the community from this individual who would otherwise potentially be out there committing crimes.”
From those struggling with addiction to those who may be victimized by those seeking to fuel their addiction.
“Understand that we’re trying to take the best approach for the whole community and that’s the entire community,” said Sickler.
The plan is to have the program set up by the end of the year. Sheriff Sickler says if this program does well they would like to expand on it. The hope is if a new jail is passed, it would allow for an increase in the program.