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Three pro-active and voluntary substance abuse program set to begin at jail this month

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The plan is to help inmates maintain a drug-free life after they get out. (Courtesy image)

DOVER - The Strafford County Commissioners and Strafford County Criminal Justice Programming today jointly announced three pilot substance-abuse programs that are set to begin this month at the Strafford County House of Corrections.

First, through collaboration with Southeastern NH Alcohol & Drug Abuse Services, the Strafford County House of Corrections will pilot an eight-week Intensive Outpatient Services Program specific to addiction-related and mental health problems. This program will be 9 to 12 hours per week with classes taught in blocks of 3 days at 3 hours and additional time provided for individual counseling sessions. This program is voluntary for inmates to attend and will not be utilized through court orders.

Our mission and goal is to assist individuals suffering from addiction to become contributing members of our communities free of chemicals and/or substances, said Sharon Drake, CEO of SENHS. Drake added that to be able to assist this population (voluntarily) who many in society have written off is the right thing to do.

"They will be released from jail at some point and when that happens, we want them to be in front of their addiction and the negative affects it has had on their lives and look forward to a positive substance free life - living a life in recovery," she said.

Also, through collaboration with SOS Recovery, the Strafford County House of Corrections will pilot a voluntary education program for inmates 30 days prior to release. This program will include an introduction to SOS Recovery Community Organization and training on the use of Naloxone, while maintaining a kit in their personal property for release.

John Burns, Director of SOS Recovery Community Organization stated, "We are excited to be a part of this initiative, and will provide life-saving Naloxone as well as outreach to individuals in Strafford County Correctional system so that they have the opportunity to access critical treatment and recovery resources when they are released. When we approached Criminal Justice Programming Coordinator Carrie Conway and Acting Superintendent Chris Brackett we were greeted with tremendously open minds that were committed to doing more to treat those incarcerated with improved resources. It is our hope at SOS Recovery Community Organization, that the day will come when individuals are no longer incarcerated for substance use disorders, and instead will receive robust treatment and recovery resources immediately when needed. However, while we wait for that day and continue to advocate for it, we are excited to have partners that work as closely with SOS as Strafford County Criminal Justice Programming, to provide these critical, life-saving, resources."

The third pilot program is the Medication Assisted Treatment Re-Entry Program. This a collaboration with Families First Health and Support Center, a Portsmouth-based community health center that offers mobile health clinics at about a dozen locations in the Seacoast, including the Strafford County Complex. In the Re-Entry Program, a nurse and substance abuse counselor from Families First's mobile health team meet with inmates shortly prior to their release to assess their need for Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT).

MAT uses medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral interventions, to provide a "whole-patient" approach to the treatment of substance use disorders. Research shows that the combination of medications and behavioral therapy can successfully treat these disorders, and for some people help sustain recovery. The MAT Re-Entry Program will be available to all inmates being released from the Strafford County House of Corrections.

"The goal of this pilot program is to improve transitions and connect these individuals with comprehensive care, including primary care and MAT services," says Families First Clinical Director Sue Durkin. "On the day of their release, these individuals will already have a team in place to support them - a team of people who are invested in their success."

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