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Nash launches opioid treatment plan

Nash County was one of two counties in the state recently selected to participate in a pilot program that will help treat opioid addiction.

Major Dennis Wooten, of the Nash County Sheriff's Office, presented the Medicine Assisted Treatment, or MAT's, program to Nash County Commissioners on Monday during their regular meeting.

The MAT's program is tentative scheduled to take effect in January 2018 and involves the deployment of prescription drugs to treat opioid addiction
Wooten said the program was being implemented at the direction of Governor Roy Cooper with assistance being provided by the National Governor's Association.

The program will be implemented at the Nash County Detention Center.

Wooten said he was presenting the program to commissioners as well as the District Attorney, Trillium and Judge Quentin Sumner.

"I need all my stakeholders involved in the program," he said.

Wooten said North Carolina was one of seven states accepted by the National Governor's Association to be part of the MAT's plan. Nash and New Hanover Counties were selected as the two counties in North Carolina to pilot the program.

Wooten said as part of the program, the MAT's would be given to opioid-dependent people in the detention center.

"We're primarily focused on those that are incarcerated or on probation," he said.

Wooten said they would use naltrexone, a drug that is given intramuscularly. Wooten said naltrexone was developed in the 80s for alcohol abuse but was later discovered to be helpful for opioid abuse as well.

Naltrexone blocks the effects and cravings of opioids for 28 days, Wooten said.

Wooten went on to say participants would receive their first shot while in the detention center. After that, the person would be assisted in ensuring they got the other 11 shots to remain opioid free.

"The program usually lasts 12 months," Wooten said.

The person would also receive substance abuse counseling.

"We would assess that at the end of 12 months and see the success rate," Wooten said.

Wooten said he anticipated running into a few issues but was hopeful they would be able to be worked out. One such issue was insurance. The shots cost between $800 and $1,200 each. Wooten said while the first shot would be covered, the remaining 11 would not be.

"If you don't have insurance, that's out of pocket," Wooten said.

"We need to be prepared that at some point we may need something," Wooten told commissioners.

Wooten said he was hopeful additional funding may come through that could help with some of the costs.

Commissioner Chair Robbie Davis questioned why Nash was one of the two counties chosen, along with New Hanover county, who is known as one of the worst counties in the United States for opioid addiction. Davis asked if that meant Nash was also ranked high.

"We were asked based on our commitment to drug enforcement," Wooten said. "They knew we had that drug task force and they knew we work hard arresting drug dealers."

Wooten said between now and January, the Sheriff's Office would be working hard to get the program implemented by January 2018.

"We are really looking forward to setting a good example for the rest of the state," he said.

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