St. Louis County Announces Treatment Of Opioid Use In Jail

The program will create a plan with local healthcare providers to offer medication-assisted treatment for people in, or recently released from county jail

DULUTH, Minn.- It’s an effort designed to eliminate the high numbers of opioid addictions in St. Louis County. Recently, the county became just one of fifteen counties chose for a new program to treat opioid use disorder in jail.

The program will create a plane with local health care providers to offer medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for people in, or recently released from the county jail.

“There’s a bunch of people in our community who are at a real risk of dying from this stuff. And we have got the opportunity to identify and give them a hand”, said Honorable Shaun Floerke, Judge at the Sixth Judicial District Judge in Duluth.

The program’s goal is building bridges between jail and community based treatment for opioid use disorder. Several jail staff members will start training this week before heading to Washington D.C. sometime in August for even more training.

It will be hard to track exactly how many lives the program will save, but it has the potential to make a big difference.

“You aren’t going to be able to look in 5 years and say this saved, we won’t have that kind of data. But we will know that this will save lives, and that will save lives of connected people”, said Floerke.

It’s hoped this program will not only help a lot of individuals, but the entire area too.

“Ensuring that we aren’t one of the top counties in the state of Minnesota for overdose deaths or just flat out overdose numbers, improving the outcomes for those individuals so that they can lead to more productive lives and not the vicious cycle of being addicted”, said Ross Litman, St. Louis County Sheriff.

Duluth Police Opioid Technician Jessica McCarthy also has high hopes telling us in a statement that “risk of overdose post release from incarceration is 40 times the average. It’s going to help a lot of people”.

While officials say no timetable has been set on when this program will be ready to launch, Sheriff Litman says it’s “sooner than later”.

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