The Pima County Board of Supervisors accepted a three-year, $1.4 million grant from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services to expand and enhance local efforts to combat opioid addiction Tuesday.
The grant will be used to provide peer navigators and provide counselors trained in medication-assisted treatment to work with law enforcement officers when law enforcement find addicts in the field. Counselors will refer those individuals to treatment programs rather than jail.
"These are community residents that we know will not succeed in jail because of their additions," said Terrance Cheung, Pima County's Director of Justice Reform Initiatives. "Identifying community-treatment resources as alternatives to jail serves those in need better and saves taxpayers money because we're not over incarcerating."
The County Administrator's Criminal Justice Reform Unit will oversee the program. A program manager will be hired to administer the grant program.
According to the Medical Examiner's Office, 239 of the 328 overdose deaths last year recorded in Pima County included some sort of opiate, with 89% of those deaths ruled accidental overdoses.