Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $1,000,000)
The 22nd Judicial Circuit Office of the District Attorney is requesting funds through the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Program, and Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Program grant solicitation. Alabama had the highest prescription opioid rate in the nation at 80.4 prescriptions per 100 people. Covington County is currently ranked 16th in the state of Alabama for opioid prescriptions, with an estimated 85.3 prescriptions per 100 people, translating to a rate almost two times higher than the national average of 43.3 prescriptions per 100 people. They had no less than 20 overdoses that resulted in death in 2021 and administered at least 80 doses of Naloxone. With funds through the Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Site-Based Program Grant, the Office of the District Attorney will concentrate on response and prevention.
The 22nd Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office will expand their diversion program through law enforcement and first responder deflection program, offering treatment and assistance to those that needed it prior to arrest. Their goal will be to reach previously underserved populations without the burden of the arrest.
Prevention will be directed at high school students through part-time work-study peer helpers. These students will be hired to maintain communication with students to continue to warn them about the dangers of opioid and drug use.
The response will include overdose response kits that will be distributed to all police and fire departments in the county. Advertising campaigns will encourage those present during an overdose to call 911 without fear of arrest, provided they aren’t directly responsible for the overdose.
Since options of treatment locally are scarce, they will hire a Substance Abuse Counselor to improve local outcomes in treatment through those diverted through the implementation of the new programs. They will also be available to provide family counseling to children and youth impacted by their parent’s substance abuse.
They will also hire a Community Resource Specialist that will assist individuals with finding and securing employment, navigating outside treatment options, securing sober housing, and helping them to overcome any other barriers that may prevent them from long-term recovery. The Community Resource Specialist will ideally be a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist. They will also assist the District Attorney in holding a symposium on the warning signs and dangers of opioid addiction, treatment options, and what to do in case of an overdose.