WILMINGTON — As part of the community’s aim to take on the opiate scourge, the common pleas judge said Wednesday he will hire a recovery liaison who will be in a position to offer more individualized strategies for addicts.
The recovery liaison will be a licensed social worker, said Clinton County Common Pleas Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck, adding he thinks such a person will be really helpful in giving the court useful information about individuals who are addicted.
“There’s a tendency to treat every individual who comes to court the same. ‘Well, we’ll plug him into this group program, or we’ll plug him into these three meetings a week, da-da-da. But everybody’s different. You got to figure out what’s going on in that person,” Rudduck said while meeting with county commissioners.
With a liaison who gets to know a person individually, the judge expects to have more information about what is expected to work with that particular individual.
Having that extra information on a case-by-case basis, thinks Rudduck, will be very helpful in terms of that person’s recovery.
The new position will be paid for through a Targeting Community Alternatives to Prison (T-CAP) grant from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction. Last fall, Clinton County was the first place in Ohio selected to take part in a pilot T-CAP grant program that aims at a fundamental shift in the way certain offenders with drug addictions are dealt with.
The state grant is intended to assist communities in managing the lowest level of felony offenders through more effective and less costly alternatives to prison. Rudduck said from the beginning that he planned to use the T-CAP funds in ways that help people recover from drug addiction.
For its first pilot-year, Clinton County was awarded more than $200,000 of T-CAP funds. Less is expected the next two years, about $166,500 each year.
One of the things done with last year’s funds was the employment of a medical doctor to report to the local drug court — called the You-Turn Recovery Docket — and to determine medical questions such as whether an addict should take Vivitrol or other medicated-assisted treatment.
In addition, T-CAP funds went toward purchasing a vehicle for the court’s supervision department in order to facilitate community service work.
Rudduck is enthusiastic about the Tanager House in downtown Wilmington, a transitional recovery residence for women that was expected to open Wednesday the same day he addressed commissioners.
T-CAP grant dollars will be used to subsidize residents to live there, said Rudduck. Its faith-based program, he said, will give the local community another resource and another alternative in responding to the heroin epidemic.
Of the new recovery house the judge added, “[It can be beneficial] Especially for women who have economic issues. They end up going back to an unstable environment because of economic issues. This will give them an opportunity to get out on their own in a safe, recovery home.”
Referencing a “cautious optimism” on his part, Rudduck said things have slowed down a little bit in his courtroom. He thinks that things already implemented in the response to the opiate crisis are starting to help.
He gave an example from drug court of what he had in mind.
“I can’t believe how few positive drug screens we have now [among drug court participants]. We’re drug testing the heck out of these You-Turn [Recovery Docket] people,” said Rudduck.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.