Expanded mental health and addiction treatment could soon be available to people being held at Erie County’s jails

Erie County

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Improved addiction and mental health services could soon be heading to facilities operated by the Erie County Sheriff’s Office. 

In a committee meeting Thursday, the Erie County Legislature discussed a Medication Assisted Treatment Program. The program expands on the current program to offer more addiction and mental health treatment for detainees.

“Medication-Assisted Treatment is life-saving, as it relates to the opioid epidemic. This is something that, as a county employee, I was supportive in working on.” Michael Ranney board member of The Erie County Corrections Specialist Advisory Board.

The Erie County Corrections Specialist Advisory Board recommended the program last year. And now, the legislature, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Mental Health are all on board to make the program a reality. 

“We’re going to plan to do daily group sessions related to substance use, disorders and also groups on recovery and relapse prevention,” said Ronald Schoelerman, director of intensive adult mental health services. “It allows us an additional opportunity to make some headway to people and hopefully give them a few skills before they leave.”

Erie County Sheriff officials say the program also helps to make the facilities safer, by offering Suboxone via injection instead of orally.

“The injectable form of Suboxone precludes the possibility of diversion,” said Thomas Diina Erie County Holding Center Superintendent. “So you get an injection in your arm, it’s not something that goes in your mouth, you can’t cheek-it, you can’t secrete it on your person and turn it to something for which it was not intended. That will prevent a lot of issues in the housing areas.”

Angelica Morrison is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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