State grant helps drug court clients


By Peter H. Milliken

milliken@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Drug court participants in Trumbull and Mahoning County Common Pleas courts will get financial help in their addiction recovery thanks to recently announced state grants.

The grants are coming as the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services expands its addiction treatment program to drug courts in eight additional counties, including Mahoning and Trumbull.

Mahoning County’s $439,560 grant is based on serving about 70 clients in the drug court operated by Judge John M. Durkin.

Trumbull County’s $628,020 grant is based on serving up to 100 clients in the drug court operated by Judge Andrew Logan, said Eric Wandersleben, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

“This grant does not increase our capacity to serve people. It allows us to serve the people we have better,” explained Brenda Heidinger, associate director of the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board.

The funding helps drug court participants with opioid or alcohol addiction, who are eligible for medication-assisted treatment, whether they are uninsured or on Medicaid or private insurance.

The grant will pay for Vivitrol injections, which block the opiate receptors in the brain to prevent opiate users from experiencing a high, Heidinger said. “It helps eliminate those cravings,” for opiates, she added.

“It’ll enhance the existing court. Judge Durkin is one of the leaders in the state for drug courts,” Duane Piccirilli, executive director of the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board, said of the grant.

The money covers not only treatment costs, but also recovery supports, such as housing, transportation, child care or co-pays for private insurance.

Drug court participants plead guilty to the charges against them and can have those charges dismissed if they successfully complete treatment.

Completing drug court typically takes 12 to 18 months.

The state’s addiction treatment program originated in state fiscal years 2014 and 2015 as a pilot project and was expanded to serve 14 counties in fiscal 2016.

State fiscal years begin July 1.

The expansion to eight additional counties, including Mahoning and Trumbull, and the funds accompanying that expansion, are for state fiscal year 2017, which is the current fiscal year that started July 1, 2016.

Under the program, each eligible drug court client can use $2,000 per month to cover treatment and recovery support costs.

Piccirilli said he is proud that his board helps fund drug court. “You see families put back together. You actually see recovery in action,” when people successfully complete drug court, he said.

“You see people that are getting their kids back, people that are back in employment,” after they have “lost everything and have hit rock bottom,” he concluded.

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