WENY News - Steuben County Pledges to Continue Battle Against Opioid Epidemi

Steuben County Pledges to Continue Battle Against Opioid Epidemic, Despite Cuts to State Funding

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BATH, N.Y. (WENY) – Steuben County has announced it will continue its battle with the local opioid epidemic, despite the lack of anticipated funding from the state.

County Manager Jack Wheeler told the county Legislature's Human Services Health Education Committee the state has cut anticipated funds for jail-based opioid treatment by 75 percent, with the remainder of the funds split between a few counties.

Steuben County planned to use the funds as part of its Comprehensive Opioid Prevention Effort (COPE) program, which was announced by District Attorney Brooks Baker and county Sheriff Jim Allard in February.

One key element in the program was expanding counseling and treatment services for inmates at the county jail. The plan was to increase services now provided by a part-time substance abuse counselor with transitional assistance after release in order to help avoid relapse.

Steuben County is one of the few counties in the state now providing even limited in-house treatment for inmates struggling with substance abuse, according to Allard.

The county has been aggressive in its efforts to educate the public about the opioid epidemic by holding numerous forums and presentations, developing tip lines, and trying to combat it through services, interdiction and local laws.

“We’re ahead of the curve of many counties in the state in dealing with this issue,” Wheeler told the committee. “We hoped that would give us an edge, and apparently it did not. So it’s up to us to ramp it up and we will.”

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