CUMBERLAND — A voluntary program designed to place an opioid-overdose victim into treatment within 24 hours has yet to have any takers.
Representatives of the Drug Abatement Response Team have made 10 home visits to local overdose victims since the first-of-its-kind program in the state was launched earlier this year.
"Some of our individuals have said that they would like to look into treatment, and they're concerned about (treatment), but they haven't sought the treatment," said David Goad, Safe Streets coordinator.
A county Safe Streets Program grant — secured by the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention — funds the initiative.
An update on the program came during a Community Strengthening Coalition forum held last week at First Presbyterian Church in Cumberland.
The group was formed by members of the Allegany County NAACP Branch 7007 and Frostburg State University’s Communication Leadership Lab as a way to engage the community in solving social issues. It now features a diverse mix of community organizations concentrating efforts on the opioid crisis.
Under the DART program, within 24 hours of the overdose victim’s release from the hospital, a crisis counselor from the Western Maryland Health System and a Cumberland Police officer arrive at the survivor's residence and offer the individual a chance to seek treatment for their drug addiction. A representative from probation or parole will also accompany officials if needed.
If the individual is willing to accept help, a police officer will take them to a local treatment facility.
Goad said the lack of a local detox center and a halfway house could be a barrier to DART's success.
"It's not something we are going to give up on,” he said. "We are looking into a halfway house — it will cost just over $300,000 annually to run.”
Janet Gaines, an addictions counselor at Alternative Drug and Alcohol Counseling, said lack of a detox facility is an issue.
"We try to find places daily to send our clients for detox," she said.
A recovering addict herself with 27 years clean from cocaine and methamphetamines, Gaines is working to get a treatment center in Cumberland.
She said patients are currently being sent to the Eastern Shore for treatment.
“That’s crazy,” she said.
"We just had several clients die from heroin overdoses.” Gaines said. “We don't have anywhere to send them.”