HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — After multiple jurisdictions reported increases in drug overdoses during 2020, Henrico County has announced plans to design a drug and alcohol detoxification and recovery facility.
County Manager John Vithoulkas proposed a budget of $12 million to build a 20,000 sq. ft. detox facility that can house up to 30 adults for detox from all substances.
Non-fatal drug overdoses only involving heroin and opioids increased by over 150 from 2019 to 2020. There were nine less fatal overdoses than the previous year.
Police Lieutenant Matthew Pecka said, “I think it is important to consider the collaborative effort many divisions within Henrico County are doing. Working together to provide assistance.”
In 2019, Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas created the ‘Recovery Roundtable‘ to provide strategies and recommendations to strengthen addiction and recovery programs.
The roundtable consists of members from various departments across the county — from Dr. Danny Avula with the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts to criminal justice practitioners and Henrico Area Mental Health and Developmental Services.
Tyrone Nelson, one of the co-chairs of the Recovery Roundtable, said substance abuse impacts the community in many ways and the county is and will be responsive to those impacts.
“The work of the Recovery Roundtable group has shown to have impacts in multiple ways in the County,” Nelson said. “From reduced jail populations, a future private/public Detox Center, more centered work with those who have substance abuse problems, etc. The group’s work will have an impact for years to come.”
In early 2020, the roundtable met to address a main issue involving the jail system being strained in attempting to keep pace with criminal activities that accompany untreated Substance Abuse Disorders (SUD).
The efforts of the roundtable, much like many other departments, had the coronavirus pandemic and stopping the spread of a deadly virus additionally on the table.
However, the roundtable still met for eight months collecting data and pinpointing the locations in the county that need the most help in combating addiction.
Now, in 2021, Nelson said the efforts of the Recovery Roundtable are still in full swing.
The roundtable noted there are not many good options for detoxing in the county with most only done in jails.
Deputy County Manager for Public Safety Tony McDowell said, for those with substance abuse disorders, going to a jail as your only option for detox can be intimidating and can affect one’s mental state.
He said local governments do not typically provide detox beds and Henrico County is planning to make them more attainable with the new facility.
McDowell added there has been a challenge in finding these beds in different years — most typically having a waiting list. He said this is a problem because, by the time someone is ready to come forward and say they need help, there can be a wait for nearly a week and can create a window of time for someone to relapse or revert to not wanting to seek help.
“It’s a real problem,” McDowell said. “It should be, ‘let’s get you help right now.'”
The Henrico County Board of Supervisors was proposed with building the detox center and is looking into relationships with the medical community to serve as the operator.
The facility is planned to be medically managed with nurse oversight and licensed clinical social workers for mental health therapy.
The patient would be in the facility for one to two weeks and, once they are stable, they will be transitioned out with a recovery plan of care for the future
McDowell said construction is planned to start by the end of 2021 with a timeline of 12-18 months.