State funding sought to upgrade Montgomery addiction center -- Gazette.Net


This story was updated at 7:40 p.m. on March 31, 2014.

Battling Montgomery County’s heroin and opiate addiction issues will take a variety of measures, but some state funding may be on the way for a Rockville treatment center to help addicts, Council President Craig L. Rice said Monday.

Rice said he’d spoken with Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) about the rising heroin and opiate issue in the state, and asked the governor to support extra funding for the Avery Road Treatment Center in Rockville.

The center is in bad condition, with some units “at best deplorable,” Rice said.

The treatment center provides residential drug abuse treatment for low-income county residents, with 60 beds available, according to county budget documents.

County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) has included money for planning of a replacement facility in his proposed fiscal 2015 capital budget, and Rice said the governor is considering a supplemental budget appropriation for the state’s fiscal 2015 operating budget.

But he warned that nothing is certain yet.

O’Malley spokeswoman Nina Smith wrote in an email Monday that protecting the public’s health and safety are top priorities for the administration.

“We are very concerned about the recent uptick in heroin and opiate activity both nationally and locally, and continue to monitor the issue closely,” Smith wrote. “The council president is correct in that this issue is critical to Maryland’s progress, and we will work to find the best course of action moving forward.”

In August, the Montgomery County Police Department raised concern about heroin use in the county, citing seven deaths in Montgomery between March and August. That was as many deaths as the county had from 2010-2012 combined.

Ultimately, dealing with the heroin issue boils down to education, Rice said.

“We have got to get the message out to our parents and to our community” about the depth of the problem, he said.

The county’s school system has been doing a very good job in trying to tackle the drug problem, he said.

Teachers have received training on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of drug use, and school nurses have received mandatory training to make sure they have the most up-to-date information on drug use and addiction, Rice said.

The council’s Heath and Human Services and Public Safety committees discussed the drug problem at a hearing on Thursday.

Raymond Crowel, chief of behavioral health and crisis services for the county, said the county recently received a $12,000 state grant to train 90 people on how to use Naloxone, which he described as a tool used to treat people with opiate overdoses by reactivating breathing.

Crowel said the training would target police officers and families in contact with addicts.

Montgomery County Fire & Rescue personnel are already equipped with Naloxone.

“It’s not a cure and it doesn’t last forever,” Crowel said, “but it will give fire and rescue a chance to intervene and get them to the hospital.”

Staff Writer Tiffany Arnold contributed to this story.