County Council Considering Adding Drug Court Therapist

Additional staffing would accommodate more opioid-addicted patients

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Montgomery County Circuit Court

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The Montgomery County Council is considering whether to beef up the staffing of Montgomery County Circuit Court’s adult drug court program to handle the ongoing demands of the opioid crisis.

Adult drug court was started in 2004 as a voluntary treatment program for offenders suffering from drug and alcohol dependence. Offenders participate in the program for at least 20 months and engage in treatment, attend recovery meetings, meet with a case manager and live in court-approved housing.

Council member Sidney Katz has proposed the council approve a special appropriation of $70,799 so the county Department of Health and Human Services can hire another therapist for the drug court program. According to a Sept. 5 memo sent by Katz to the council, drug and alcohol-related deaths in the county more than doubled from 52 to 116 between 2013 and 2017. Of those, more than three-quarters were opioid-related.

Katz’s memo said that circuit court Associate Judge Nelson Rupp had testified during a joint April hearing held by the council’s public safety and health and human services committees that due to the opioid crisis, the adult drug court program now demands a ratio of one therapist for every 15 participants, as opposed to the program’s current of one therapist per 20 participants.

“Participants are addicts who, without the support of this program, would be in jail or more likely dead.  The tough love, consistent, therapeutic approach, over a very long treatment period, is the only method that has the potential of allowing the participants time to be successful on their road to recovery,” Katz said in a press release.

The special appropriation will come before a joint session of the public safety and health and human services committees on Oct. 15. The committees will then send a recommendation about the appropriation request to the full council.

Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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