New Castle County launches new program to fight addiction [video]

New Castle County leaders introduced a new program to help keep people with drug addictions out of jail.

The program is called “HERO HELP” and it’s designed to assist eligible addicts by providing the assessment and treatment they need – without arresting them.

New Castle County Executive Thomas P. Gordon, Department of Public Safety Director Joseph Bryant Jr., and New Castle County Police Division Col. E.M. Setting, unveiled the collaborative project on Friday.

“HERO HELP is a new and strictly voluntary program – for non-violent adults only – that the county is proud to present, pulling together in a revolutionary step with state officials to broaden our approach to the deadly heroin epidemic that has been destroying families here and across the country,” Gordon said

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Department of Health and Social Service Secretary Rita Landgraf and Michael Barbieri, director of the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health were also at the announcement event.

They discussed the state’s role in the project, which will provide assessment as well as both in-patient and out-patient addiction recovery treatment and related services.

“We believe at the Department of Health and Social Services that at the time of a potential arrest it can be a rather defining moment and offer an individual an alternative  to entering the criminal justice system and to come into that system of treatment. We also believe people that people have to be accountable for their behavior,” Landgraf said.

According to Landgraf the state budget increased money for health and social services by 30 percent this year, allowing state officials to further help those who suffer from substance abuse.

In 2015, New Castle County collected more than 2-thousand pounds of expired prescription medicine often used by substance abusers. Just a few months ago, 7-thousand pounds of prescription drugs was collected statewide in April. Heroin is another concern for the county that has created programs to battle that epidemic.

“Like our ‘Heroin Alert’ program that takes the message of prevention and treatment out into our community and the special ‘Heroin Trap’ awareness campaign funded with a $500,000 grant last year, HERO HELP reaches beyond the ‘arrest-first’ approach that has been typical and traditional in many places,” Gordon said.

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