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Court and probation department prepare for pilot drug program

Crawford County Common Pleas Court employees and Probation Officers participated in two seminars recently in preparation for participation in a five county Addiction Treatment Pilot Program scheduled to begin in January 2014.

On November 14 and 15, Magistrate Rob Neff, Court Administrator Mark Rittenour and Probation Officers Dan Wurm and Mark Alspach, attended the National Judicial College’s 2013 Addiction Treatment Symposium in Columbus, Ohio, together with Crawford-Marion Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health (ADAMH) Board Executive Director Jody Demo-Hodgins and Rich Steele, Clinical Supervisor with Maryhaven, Inc., a provider of addiction treatment services operating in Crawford County. Faculty for the Symposium included nationally recognized authorities, including former Deputy Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dr. Timothy P. Condon, Ph.D., addiction psychiatrist Dr. Robert P. Schwartz, M.D., and the Hon. James E. Sullivan, who has served as Commissioner for the 22nd Judicial Circuit Drug Court in St. Louis, MO for the past ten years.

On November 21, Judge Russell B. Wiseman, Magistrate Rob Neff and Court Administrator Mark Rittenour participated in the Supreme Court of Ohio’s 10th Annual Specialized Docket Practitioner Network Conference, offered in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services.

In 2014, Crawford County Common Pleas Court will participate with Franklin, Hardin, Mercer and Scioto Counties in a $5 Million Pilot Program designed to determine the effectiveness of Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) therapies in drug court settings. The Pilot Program is administered by Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services, and will provide funding through the Crawford-Marion ADAMH Board for approximately twenty-five Crawford County residents to receive Medically Assisted Treatment therapies to assist them in attaining lasting sobriety.

Those therapies include the medication Suboxone, a partial opiate agonist, which is presently being offered in Crawford County through Maryhaven, Inc., as well as Vivitrol, an opiate antagonist which has only recently been approved for treatment of opiate addiction and which is delivered through monthly injections. Both medications will be offered through Maryhaven, Inc. as the treatment provider.

In addition to the funding allocated for 25individuals through the pilot program, other Crawford County residents may be able to access Medically Assisted Treatment through the expanded Medicaid Program recently adopted in Ohio.

The results of the Medically Assisted Treatment provided to Crawford County residents through the Drug Court program will be monitored closely and data will be collected and analyzed by The Begun Center for Violence and Prevention Research & Education at Case Western Reserve University, which has significant experience in the research and evaluation of drug court programs. The results of this Pilot Program will be used to determine funding priorities for the State of Ohio in the future to combat the ongoing opiate addiction problem.

“This is a significant step to develop hard evidence on whether tax dollars spent on Medically Assisted Treatment save both lives and money when compared to past efforts dealing with opiate addiction,” said Magistrate Rob Neff. “The national faculty at the 2013 Addiction Treatment Pilot Program Symposium recognized that this is an incredible opportunity to both save and improve the lives of a significant number of Ohioans, and we are excited to be a part of this Pilot Program.”

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