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Young mother’s death prompts sheriff to offer new drug recovery program

(WJRT)
Published: Feb. 12, 2020 at 6:04 PM EST
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(2/12/2020) - It's a sad reality that jails in Mid-Michigan and nationwide house plenty of people with substance abuse issues.

But one county jail is trying to help people suffering from addiction, before they get released.

A terribly sad story got this unique program started.

A 24-year-old pregnant woman was in the Arenac County Jail on a drug charge. She was released to have her baby, but police were called to her home about three weeks later.

"She was laying on the floor. She was deceased, still had the needle in her arm from a mixture of heroin and fentanyl, and in a little basket there was the newborn baby and another infant," said Arenac County Sheriff Jim Mosciski.

That drug overdose death last year lingers with the sheriff.

"I think substance abuse is getting worse, especially with the opioids," he said.

Mosciski is the first sheriff in Mid-Michigan to enlist the help of Peer 360, a nonprofit recovery alliance that serves seven counties. The recovery coaches help people overcome addiction

"Come in and talk to these people. They are state certified," Mosciski said.

Juli Strauer is a recovery coach for Peer 360 and will be coming into the jail for two hours a week.

"We are all in long term recovery that work for Peer 360, we know what they are going through," she said.

Strauer said the period right after inmates are released is the most likely time when they will overdose.

The sheriff's department has offered substance abuse classes to inmates, but Mosciski said they often have repeat offenders. Peer 360 hopes that will change.

"Get to know them a little bit individually and see what their needs are going to be once they leave here, and hopefully keep them out in the community, sober, safe and sober," Strauer said.

Mosciski hopes inmates will continue their programs outside the jail.

Peer 360 hopes its workers will be invited into more jails and even hospital emergency rooms to help people with substance abuse.

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