State gives $1.3 million to county's drug fight

Funds will help provide residential treatment

January 17, 2001|By David Nitkin | David Nitkin,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County is receiving $1.3 million in state money for new and expanded drug treatment programs, including the creation of the county's first residential rehabilitation center.

The County Council last night accepted a pair of state grants that will provide expanded treatment options and greater outreach for county residents who suffer from substance abuse.

The county will receive $1 million for drug treatment from state tobacco settlement funds in the next year, an unprecedented allocation that will expand the number of client treatment slots from 2,166 to 2,741, a 27 percent boost.

"This is a major increase," said Michael M. Gimbel, director of the county's substance abuse bureau. "This is something we've really looked at for a long time."

About a third of the grant, Gimbel said, will go toward establishing the county's first residential rehabilitation and detoxification center, to be built on the campus of Rosewood Center in Owings Mills.

The center will be operated by Right Turn of Maryland, which runs a program on the campus for nonviolent criminal offenders with drug and alcohol problems. The county has never had its own public or private residential treatment facility, and many residents looking for such services must go to places such as Mountain Manor in Frederick County, Gimbel said.

"Now our residents won't have to go to another county. ... It's easier for their families; it's easier for their treatment."

In addition to the residential program, the first state grant will pay for expansions of six programs, including drug treatment at the women's detention center, a halfway house and inpatient and outpatient medical detoxification.

The second grant approved last night will provide $284,949 to place seven addiction counselor specialists in county social services offices.

According to county officials, the counselors will identify and offer assistance to welfare recipients with substance abuse problems. Under federal welfare reform, aid recipients are now screened for drug problems. But social workers can't do the job as well as specially trained professionals, said county social services director Barbara L. Gradet.

"As we're helping move them from welfare to work, substance abuse is a serious barrier for some of these individuals," Gradet said. "You have to address that issue if you are going to help people be self-sufficient."

County officials said they expect both grants to continue in future years, and Gov. Parris N. Glendening has announced his intent to seek more treatment money in next year's state budget.

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