Frederick County Supports More State Funding For Drug Awareness & Youth Diversion

County Executive says drug abuse is a ‘scourge’ in the community.


Frederick, Md (KM)  Many communities have been hit hard by drug addiction, especially when it comes to heroin. But state funding for health departments in Maryland has been cut, according to Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner. “And the transition of taking health departments from substance abuse providers to an oversight role, and trying to shift that as fee-for-service to the private sector, has its issues,” she said.

Gardner spoke at a meeting earlier this month with the Legislative Delegation. In its Legislative Package for 2017, the County is supporting a position statement calling for more state resources to strengthen drug awareness and youth diversion programs.

With some treatment programs being turned over to the private sector, Gardner said that’s brought up some problems. Locally, she says, these companies won’t let their employees go into the detention center to provide treatment to inmates. “So what happened when that transition to fee-for-service, the county picked up the substance abuse program in the detention center because we have such a need there. We can’t cut that off,” she says.

“Now, we do have a grant for the Vivitrol program so we can’t say the state’s out of it entirely because that’s not true,” says Gardner. “But we really need to have an investment of money into treatment programs. We really need to expand substance abuse treatment, and we need to expand mental health treatment.”

In June, Frederick County received a grant of $50,536 to pay for inmates receiving Vivitrol injections. The price ranges from $550 to $1,500, and the effects last only a month. The substance helps block the euphoric effects of heroin and other drugs, including alcohol.

During the meeting, Delegate Carol Krimm said the Justice Reinvestment Act passed in the last General Assembly Session would direct some offenders with drug problems from incarceration to treatment programs. “It’s going to take us a while to see the results of those program. But I think eventually we’re going to see that,” she said.

She also said counties that want funding from the state for programs for expanded drug treatment programs need to get that request in now, while the Governor is crafting the fiscal year 2018 budget.

“There is no family that I know that has not been touched by this drug addiction,” said Delegate Kathy Afzali. “It’s really tragic.”

The Legislative Delegation will hold a public hearing on the Legislative Package on Saturday, December 3rd at Winchester Hall beginning at 10:00 AM.

By Kevin McManus