Michigan drug court treatment fight addiction

Lenawee County, Michigan is doubling down on their efforts to rehabilitate felons with treatment, education, community service and employment.

“Our goal is to rid them of addiction with services, local meetings, as well as returning them to work or school,” said Judge Margaret Noe.

Noe is a  judge for the 39th Circuit Court of Lenawee County, Michigan and formed the county’s drug court in October. She said there have been 50 deaths within the last year in her rural county, mostly to fentanyl-laced heroin.

“I have to take into account the effect on the community,” she said, adding that everywhere she goes in her home county, “there’s always somebody that says, ‘I wish I could help someone in my family. I wish I could get myself into treatment.’”

Noe added that one of their participants died from complications due to their addiction in the last few days and was one of the unemployed people in recovery.

Opiate addictions have moved from inner-cities into rural communities where the market is ripe. A recent study from the University of California San Francisco found that teens in rural areas are more likely to abuse opioid painkillers than teens from metropolitan areas.

“Big city (drug dealers) are targeting rural communities,” Noe said. “We have less resources, less treatment services.”

To meet the demand, Noe put together a team to comprise the county’s first drug court that is beginning to work toward increased solutions with personal one-on-one services and less incarceration for those without additional charges. Though the county’s unemployment rate reflects the national average at 4.3 percent, Noe estimated that about 30 percent of the people they help are unemployed.

In 2012, the National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health reported that 17 percent of unemployed people were living with a substance abuse disorder and were dependent on illicit drugs, which amounts to 1 in 6 unemployed Americans.

“There is a mutually-reinforced relationship between employment and recovery,” states a December 2016 study aimed at examining the factor of unemployment in addictive behavior. “Being employed at the start of treatment improves… (continue reading)