David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health (DLC), Collier County’s only comprehensive, not-for-profit behavioral health treatment provider serving children, adults and families, announced that through the Institute for Intergovernmental Research (IIR), supported by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Collier County Community and Human Services received an $84,750 Building Bridges grant to implement a Medication-Assisted Treatment community integration program.
Building Bridges grants fund projects that enhance collaboration between jails and community-based treatment providers for opioid use disorder. These grants provide funding to eligible Building Bridges sites to support projects that increase the capacity of local communities to collaborate across the areas of public safety, behavioral health, and public health.
Collier County partnered with DLC, in collaboration with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office and Armor Correctional Health Services, to implement support for Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for inmates in the jail with substance use disorders. This MAT community integration program aligns with one of six priorities outlined in the County’s first-ever, five-year Mental Health and Addiction Services Strategic Plan approved by County Commissioners in 2019. The priority seeks to increase the capacity and effectiveness of the justice system response for persons experiencing serious mental illness and/or substance use disorders.
MAT combines the use of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medications (methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone) with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat substance use disorders. Research shows that a combination of medication and therapy can successfully treat these disorders, and for many people struggling with addiction, MAT can help sustain recovery. The prescribed medications operate to normalize brain chemistry, block the euphoric effects of alcohol and opioids, relieve physiological cravings, and normalize body functions without the negative effects of the illicit drug. The goal is to reduce the painful symptoms of withdrawal, improve functioning, and increase the chances of successful outcomes.
“MAT can protect public safety in communities by helping reduce, eliminate, or prevent the use of illicit drugs, potential criminal activity, and/or the spread of infectious disease, these outcomes may also result in reduced costs to taxpayers,” said Scott Burgess, DLC Chief Executive Officer. “Most importantly, MAT can improve survival rates, increase retention in treatment rates and improve the quality of life of those receiving care. Once sobriety is maintained, we see families reunite and improvement in clients’ ability to gain and maintain employment.”
After originally being denied the highly competitive funding for the required planning program to become one of only fifteen Building Bridges sites in the country, DLC secured private funding from Naples resident John Emery. That funding enabled five members of the team to participate in a two separate training programs in Washington, DC. The team then spent the last nine months participating in peer-to-peer exchanges, monthly coaching calls with experts, and tailored strategic planning assistance.
Now that Collier County is an approved Building Bridges site, this grant will allow the County to develop a comprehensive continuum of care model to combat opioid use disorder that targets the Collier jail population and builds bridges between in-custody and community-based treatment and supervision, including probation, parole, and court-based programs.
Through the funding, DLC will develop a Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) Care Team, including a MAT Care Coordinator and Peer Specialist. The Team will provide outreach and follow up with justice-involved individuals at risk of overdose, particularly those who may have recently experienced nonfatal overdoses, to enhance access to MAT.
The Care Team will also develop plans to effectively link individuals who are leaving jail (pre-trial and post-trial) to ongoing treatment and recovery supports. The MAT Team will also provide education and outreach with local hospitals, emergency medical services, public health, treatment providers and law enforcement.
“We greatly appreciate our collaboration with the County and the Sheriff’s Office. Their continued investment in our innovative programs is helping save and change the lives of those we are both honored to serve,” said Scott Burgess, DLC Chief Executive Officer. “This delicate balance between government and private funding is critical to ensure DLC can carry out its vital mission.”