The St. Mary’s County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a plan for spending the budgeted $100,000 extra funding to address substance abuse and prevention. The plan was outlined to the commissioners by Health Officer Dr. Meenakshi Brewster, Sheriff Tim Cameron and Director of Aging and Human Services Lori Jennings-Harris.

The program is intended to use the monies, other than those already budgeted by agencies, for non-recurring costs, as outlined by Dr. Brewster in her request for the funding during budget deliberations.

According to a letter from Dr. Brewster dated August 28, “Clearly as a community of neighbors and families we have not yet gotten a good handle on the issue of substance abuse prevention and control. The recent attention to local trends regarding abuse of prescription opioid drugs and heroin certainly has brought the broader issue of substance abuse to the forefront of our minds. Unfortunately, these trends are not just numbers on paper. They represent real people – children and adults—tragically succumbing to the effects of drug use and addiction. Here in St. Mary’s County, they are our neighbors, our family members, Our children.”

The spending plan that was developed by a ten-person “leadership team,” is as follows:

  • $21,861 to the Department of Aging and Human Services to support health communications/education efforts targeted to youth and other key subpopulations at risk of substance abuse.
  • $10,000 to the Department of Aging and Human Services to build school-based or community-based capacity to provide life skills training and mentoring for youth.
  • $20,000 through the Health Department Request for Proposals (RFP) process to a community partner organization that will provide SBRIT (Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral for Treatment) training of local primary care providers and school counselors to facilitate early screening and referral for substance abuse treatment.
  • $10,000 through the Health Department RFP process to a community partner organization or independent contractor that will implement the qualitative portion (including key informant interviews and focus groups) of a local health needs assessment on the topic of substance abuse prevention and response.
  • $36,000 to the Sheriff’s Department to engage Correctional Level 2.1 Intensive Outpatient Services for female inmates at the St. Mary’s County Detention center. Services to include assessment, substance abuse treatment utilizing a trauma informed approach with follow-up linkage to community outpatient and/or residential care as needed.
  • $3,139 to the Health Department for the purchase of medical supplies needed to equip law enforcement officials with naloxone, a drug that reverses opioid overdose. Remainder of funds needed to be covered by a state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene grant.

The initiative comes after several heroin overdoses earlier this year and a drug summit attended by 600 people at the Hollywood firehouse.