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North Carolina Jails Plan To Create Space For Substance Treatment

Recently, North Carolina won part of a legal settlement with several opioid drug manufacturers for their role in the opioid epidemic. The state’s cut, 750 million dollars, will go to substance use disorder prevention and recovery. This effort includes programs like Surrey County’s, where they are building a space for substance abuse treatment. The jail will also offer help for people who suffer from mental health disorders.

Prevalence of Mental Illness and Addictions in Jail

Lieutenant Randy Shelton works for the jail in Surrey County. He estimates that more than 80% of people in jail live with a substance use disorder or mental illness. Research from the National Drug Council shows this number is consistent among incarcerated persons nationwide.

For many people who struggle with mental health issues or addiction, jail is a revolving door in their lives. While incarcerated, their families are relieved they are somewhere that’s relatively safe. But there are no real chances to learn, change or grow while they do their time.

How Can Incarcerated Persons Get Help?

Most jails offer meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous, but few provide one-on-one therapy or drug treatment. As a result, it’s difficult for incarcerated people to learn new coping tools or get other therapies or even medications to help them live with their conditions.

Times are beginning to change. In the past few years, interventions and prevention tools have started appearing in federal prisons. For example, most prisons now offer Medication-Assisted Treatment to persons with opioid use disorder. In many cases, they also provide “aftercare” when people are released to continue their treatment while they continue to be on probation or parole.

Many people on parole also go to court-ordered drug or alcohol treatment. In addition, 12-step meetings are also usually required from people known to be substance users or were under the influence when they committed their crime.

Medication-Assisted Treatment has been credited with saving lives and is considered the “gold standard” for opioid use disorder. As a result, many jails and prisons are looking toward offering therapeutic programs and medications for people that need them to function and begin to recover.

Surry County’s New Approach

Surry County, North Carolina, plans to use some of the money from the opioid settlements to create space and resources for people with mental health and substance use disorders. In recent years, North Carolina has spent billions on new state prisons.

Surry is one of the places where the new prison space is being re-thought. While prison staff acknowledges that they can’t “fix” a person’s whole life while incarcerated, offering programs is a vital way to help people rehabilitate themselves.

The head of Surry’s substance use recovery project, Mark Willis, plans to offer services. Right now, the jail is too far over capacity to allow his project to take hold. But, in 2022, the new jail section will be open, and he’ll be able to offer meaningful treatment recovery programs to people who need them most.

Charlotte Reeves, the lead community outreach worker for Surry County’s substance use response team, also looks forward to seeing the impact of offering substance treatment at the jail. (She once was incarcerated there herself.) First, she meets with people after an overdose or substance-use-related crime, such as possession of a controlled substance. From there, she helps them find substance use treatment options.

When the new jail is finished, people will be able to take advantage of treatment options. They will also sign up for job training programs and other tools to help them stay successful once they’re back in the daily world.

Getting Help for Opioid Addiction

Are you or somebody you love struggling with an opioid use disorder? Medication-Assisted Treatment is available to anyone in North Carolina. Please call us today at 910-295-7246 to learn more about how we can help.

If you are in need of help, please call us at: 910-295-7246 or message us.



Contact Solas Health

Our mission is to improve lives and help you get better.

Addiction, pain, and mental health challenges interfere with the joys of living, but we can help. Dr. Corrigan, and the whole team at Solas Health, will help.

If you are in need of help, please call us at: 910-295-7246 or message us.

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