Adult Probation seeks $20K to fight substance abuse
Harrison County Adult Probation Officer Jeff Skaggs last month requested $20,000 from Harrison County government to fight drug and alcohol abuse, in a joint meeting of the Harrison County Council and Board of Commissioners.
Skaggs said the best strategy to do so is implementing preventative measures.
‘I don’t have to tell you how much drugs have affected this community so much lately, especially heroin,’ he said.
Skaggs said the Drug Enforcement Agency recently released a study that showed drug overdose is now the leading cause of death over vehicle crashes and firearm deaths.
Skaggs cited Harrison County Coroner Rusty Sizemore’s ‘horrific epidemic’ comments earlier this year concerning drugs in the community.
‘It kind of struck me, that’s coming from the coroner,’ he said. ‘It’s not coming from the heath department; it’s not coming from (heriff) Rod (Seelye). I know he’s saying the same things, but we’ve reached the point that this is the coroner.’
Skaggs warned of the dangers of the needle-exchange program, which has been implemented in some counties in the state.
He said all people have to do is write their initials, no identification necessary, and they can get up to 100 needles each time.
Skaggs said law enforcement recently confiscated more than 100 needles from a home in Lanesville.
‘Heroin, it’s just terrible,’ he said.
Skaggs echoed Sizemore’s compliments of the sheriff and his department’s work fighting drug abuse.
‘But, sadly, the police come in at the tail end after the problem already exists,’ he said. ‘Drug abuse has already turned people into drug dealers, robbers and, in some instances, murderers as we’ve seen in this county.’
Skaggs said the amount of money saved with the right preventative programs is immeasurable.
Seelye said 80 percent of jail inmates have substance abuse issues; and the figure is even higher for juveniles in the court system with 90 percent dealing with direct substance abuse or indirect with it at their home situation.
‘The county is footing the bill for the after-effects of this,’ he said.
Harrison County has a number of substance-abuse treatment programs, Skaggs said, but, unfortunately, the best success rate doesn’t exceed 30 percent.
‘The more efficient way is to prevent it from starting,’ he said.
Skaggs said evidence-based strategies will be used ‘ and have been used ‘ throughout the county schools. Programs such as Too Good for Drugs, Be the Majority campaign, Footprints and other pro-social norm programs are at work in the county.
‘These have been successful in other communities; we’re not just throwing something out there,’ he said. ‘They have actually worked.’
Skaggs said people are not born with the skills to say ‘no’ to drugs and peer pressure because there are kids out there asking others to do drugs.
He said the main focus is on underage drinking and prescription drug use.
‘No one started off using heroin; it started with prescriptions,’ he said.
He also mentioned the drug drop-off box, located on the first floor of the Harrison County Justice Center that is open 24 hours a day.
‘They take anything but liquids,’ he said, adding that they receive more than 100 pounds per month.
(The Milltown Police Dept. also has a drug drop-off box, where unwanted/no-longer-needed prescription drugs can be properly disposed. The site does not accept liquids, syringes or aerosols.)
Harrison County Government officials will address the $20,000 request for 2017, as well as a number of other agency requests, out of riverboat gaming funds, in budget sessions later this summer.