CHARLOTTE COUNTY — Right now, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office is getting more calls for drug abuse than ever.
“14 overdoses in the last 5 weeks," said Sgt. Craig Brandon.
Down the road at Charlotte Behavioral Healthcare, CEO Victoria Scanlon says, they’re seeing the same thing.
“Between February and June of this year when COVID began, we saw a 200% increase in Charlotte County’s involuntary Marchman Acts… These are numbers we haven’t seen before," said Scanlon.
The Marchman Act allows family or friends of someone struggling with addiction to confidentially petition a judge to get that person treatment against their will.
What’s happening in Charlotte County right now is part of a national trend. The American Medical Association reported last month more than 35 states are seeing increases in deaths from opioid use. That’s why Sgt. Brandon says the Sheriff’s Office is promoting a program that can get people help.
“Even if they have a user amount of drugs with them, on them, they will not go to jail. They will go to detox, they will go to where they can get some help," said Sgt. Brandon.
Once the person comes to the Sheriff's Office asking for help with addiction, they are taken to Charlotte Behavioral Healthcare and given treatment, free of charge.
“This is also for the family members to, and friends, to say to their loved ones, hey listen, you need to get some help. The Sheriff’s Office offers this program, they’ll help get you help. It doesn’t cost you anything, and it can help save your life," said Sgt. Brandon.
The program is funded by grants from the non-profit Archway Institute. Scanlon says the program isn’t new, but it’s more necessary than ever.
“We’ve had this program for several years, but I would like to see more people using this program, especially considering the extent of substance abuse problems that we’re seeing right now," said Scanlon.