Wicomico County officials have proposed a location in Quantico, Maryland for a potential residential addiction treatment center.
Local residents called for a need of additional drug detoxification and residential addiction treatment centers. After considering public opinion, county government and health representatives met last month and designated the site of the former Poplar Hill Pre-Release Unit along Nanticoke Road for the new center. Many of them view the center as an opportunity to fight back against the state’s opioid epidemic.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency last year regarding Maryland’s opioid crisis.
This January, Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford took legal action against pharmaceutical companies that produce and distribute opioid-based medications. In addition, they introduced plans to expand access to addiction treatment and help inmates with substance use disorders. In addition to introducing two bills to state legislature, Hogan announced the Overdose Data Reporting Act, which would allow law enforcement and emergency medical services to share opioid-related data and increase prevention and life-saving measures. The act was signed into law in April.
According to a recent report by the Maryland Department of Health, there were 2,282 statewide unintentional drug- and alcohol-related intoxication deaths in 2017. Opioids accounted for 88 percent of overdose fatalities. Wicomico County experienced 35 intoxication deaths, 20 related to heroin use. The rate of state overdose deaths increased 9 percent from the previous year, compared to the 66 percent increase from 2015 to 2016.
Preliminary data suggests that over 650 drug- and alcohol-related intoxication deaths occurred in Maryland between January and March of 2018. Fentanyl was present in approximately 500 overdose cases. Wicomico County reported 11 intoxication deaths within the same period.
In addition, the Maryland Behavioral Health Administration — which oversees drug education courses and other community health programs — provided prevention services last year to nearly 490,000 state residents and approximately 22,900 people in Wicomico County.
Before Poplar Hill was closed in summer of 2017, it was run by the county Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and served as location to prepare inmates to re-enter society. Due to the Justice Reinvestment Act of 2016, incarceration of nonviolent offenders has dropped throughout the state. The act allows inmates to enter rehabilitation programs and potentially qualify for early release. Inmates who were sentenced for misdemeanors and have shown a record of good behavior for 10 years have the opportunity to have the charges expunged.
The Wicomico Office of the County Executive reached out to local vendors to bid on the property to convert Poplar Hill and operate the future center. The bidding period closed on July 20.
County Executive Bob Culver estimated that the renovations for Poplar Hill may cost between $5 and 7 million.
Plans for the residential addiction treatment center are still in the preliminary stages. However, local officials anticipate that the facility will focus on long-term recovery care and have 60 beds to accommodate men and women who have substance use disorders.
The county has partnered with multiple local organizations and state agencies, including the Wicomico County Health Department’s Community Outreach Addictions Team (COAT) program. COAT’s staff are people in addiction recovery who serve as peer mentors for individuals considering entering treatment. COAT also provides a hotline to connect local residents with addiction recovery resources.
The forthcoming residential addiction treatment center is expected to open next summer or fall.