Grays Harbor County Awarded $600,000 by Department of Justice to Expand Opioid Treatment Program at Jail

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Grays Harbor County has received a $600,000 grant from the federal Department of Justice to continue funding a comprehensive opioid, stimulant and substance abuse site-based program at the Grays Harbor County Jail. 

The program was first implemented in March 2021 with funding granted through the Rural Response to the Opioid Epidemic demonstration project in January 2020 to institutionalize a system of care at the jail to address opioid use disorder. 

To establish that system of care (SOC), the jail hired a substance use disorder professional, increased access to the opioid agonist Buprenorphine, initiated recovery classes in the jail for program participants and contracted with a community agency to provide social service supports like housing upon reentry.

“There has been significant foundational work done in creating and implementing this SOC, and the community is beginning to realize the benefits of addressing behavioral health care needs during incarceration,” said Grays Harbor County in a grant application. “This program has not only strengthened ties with law enforcement, the judicial system, behavioral health agencies and  public health, it has also had an impact on individuals with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) who are returning to the community in a state of sobriety and genuinely working toward their recovery goals.”

Since implementation began in March, the program has served 45 individuals, of which 70% were houseless or had unstable housing, 48% had no high school diploma or GED equivalent and 86% were unemployed. 

Through the program, the county has also successfully worked with county prosecutors to secure alternative prison sentencing for six people by arranging for long-term inpatient rehabilitation.

The additional funding will allow the county to expand its services by increasing program capacity to serve people with psychostimulant disorders, according to the grant proposal. The expansion would also include additional staff time for medical monitoring, managing recovery groups and bolstering re-entry supports, said the county. 

“The goal of this expanded SOC would be to increase the number of affected individuals returning to the community with established sobriety and  behavioral health supports, decrease morbidity and mortality for those individuals and to decrease recidivism among this population,” said the county.

Surveillance data over the last 12 months indicates that methamphetamine was the drug most associated with overdose deaths in Grays Harbor County, with methamphetamine associated with 65% of overdose cases, while fentanyl and prescription opioids were each at 29% and heroin at 19%, according to Grays Harbor County. 

The $600,000 grant is part of over $300 million in grant funding the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs awarded to various jurisdictions in the 2021 fiscal year in an effort to help combat America’s substance use crisis, which the department said has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation is experiencing a precipitous rise in opioid and stimulant misuse and overdoses,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in a written statement. 

“The Justice Department is committed to supporting programs aimed at addressing the substance use crisis that is devastating communities across the nation.”

Once the awards are made, information about the grantees selected under each solicitation can be found online at www.ojp.gov/funding/fy21-ojp-grant-awards?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.