When Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins and a few friends gathered weekly for breakfast at a local eatery years ago, he noticed a pattern occurring across the street.

As Jenkins ate his eggs and sipped his coffee every Saturday, he’d watch what looked to be many of the same people visiting the methadone clinic week after week, month after month.

So when Jenkins was invited to speak at a local forum Thursday on the rise of fentanyl, he had a question for the recovery community experts around him: How effective is medically assisted treatment? Admitting he’s no expert in that area and someone who’s never been a big believer in medically assisted treatment, Jenkins sought to learn more from the panel.

Howie Newton, community outreach coordinator for evidence-based medication-assisted treatment facility Ideal Option, offered an analogy. If a person with diabetes who’s been taking medication and doing well suddenly scarfs down a half dozen donuts and a pint of ice cream, would the doctor take away the meds they need?

As to the clinic Jenkins mentioned, Newton confidently estimated most of the people coming back repeatedly are leading productive lives, committing fewer crimes and spreading fewer diseases because they have a safe place to get help.

Panelist Sean Nicholson, who is in long-term recovery, said every person’s recovery process is different.

“To get sober, to get clean, you need structure,” Nicholson said. He is director of community and business relations at The Orenda Center of Wellness, an addiction treatment center in Frederick.

Nicholson said he’s tried and failed in recovery before, and it was important for him to have opportunities to try again.

“I think hope and compassion is the solution,” Nicholson offered.

Jenkins agreed that agencies such as his must continue to work with community partners to find solutions to the opioid epidemic and fentanyl crisis.

“I’m a believer of the user does not belong in jail,” Jenkins said.

The sheriff detailed drug trends Frederick County has experienced over the past 30 years, such as the rise of heroin in 2012 and the prevalence of crack cocaine in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Police are seizing record amounts of fentanyl nowadays, he said, and he expects to see a wave of counterfeit pills coming to the area. Jenkins also cautioned crystal meth could become a big issue locally.

Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor, citing numbers from the Frederick Police Department, said the city has experienced 94 overdoses in 2021 compared to 106 at the same point one year ago. He said the city is getting ready to launch a law enforcement assisted diversion program next year.

“Once you’re in the [criminal justice] system, it’s really hard to get away from the system,” O’Connor said, so the Frederick police would like to help through diversion.

While panelists agreed the COVID-19 pandemic was especially hard for those with addiction, there were also some benefits that came about through necessity, such as telehealth.

Chloe Nichols, a certified nurse practitioner that works with Ideal Option, said in the past, new patient visits had to be held in-person. But when the pandemic struck, Nichols was unable to see people in-person.

“I think that did help us reach a lot of people we wouldn’t have,” she said.

When it comes to treatment, Nichols said fentanyl addiction is much harder to treat and stabilize than heroin. It’s a deeper addiction, she said. While traditionally, a person needs to be off fentanyl for at least 24 hours to begin buprenorphine treatment or they’ll experience extreme withdrawal, Nichols said she’s found success though micro initiation. Through this method, a patient can have recently used fentanyl but begin treatment with a tiny dose of buprenorphine. Over five days, the buprenorphine dose increases while, ideally, the fentanyl use decreases.

Panelists continued their conversation sharing their experiences in the recovery community during the worst of the pandemic. They offered advice and shared opinions on ways to work together. The forum reached a tone of gratitude as Nicholson described how he can always expect a quick response from the mayor or sheriff when he needs them.

“We have some great people here in this community,” Nicholson said. “We’re fortunate.”

Follow Mary Grace Keller on Twitter: @MaryGraceKeller

(31) comments

Plumbum

Sherf Trumpkins. Addicted to the Chick Fil A

Don’t blame the addicts…….

gabrielshorn2013

Interesting article about this meeting. I was interested in Howie Newton’s statement:

If a person with diabetes who’s been taking medication and doing well suddenly scarfs down a half dozen donuts and a pint of ice cream, would the doctor take away the meds they need?

Is this a valid comparison? Would a diabetic do such a thing? Type I diabetes is permanent due to an autoimmune destruction of the Islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. There is no way to replace them, so the use of insulin is permanent to replace the function of those lost cells. Is addiction permanent? Do addictions to other substances require continual maintenance doses of other substances? Is there a timeline for effective treatment, leading to being weaned away from them? As any alcoholic knows, “a pickle is a pickle” and they must not go back to drinking once sober. Can an abuser of other substances get to such a place where it becomes sheer willpower to maintain sobriety and stay away from those substances?

threecents

Assuming I interpreted that correctly, I am impressed that the sheriff does not believe drug addicts should be prosecuted for drug use. That is quite liberal of him.

threecents

On your list of shows to watch add Dopesick, it's on Hulu. It's heart breaking and disgusting...and why having forums like this is like closing the barn doors after all the horses have escaped, pointless...it's gonna be real hard to close the OxyContin door now. Watch Dopesick....

armillary

For someone who’s never been a big believer in medically assisted treatment, Jenkins ought to consider the analogy in himself.

Like many Americans, he is overweight, a condition that will decrease both the quality and length of his life. It is well-established that obesity can progressively cause and/or exacerbate a wide spectrum of co-morbidities, including type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, reproductive dysfunction, respiratory abnormalities, psychiatric conditions, and even increase the risk for certain types of cancer. While obesity can be controlled with diet and exercise, the Sheriff likely takes daily medication for hypertension caused by his being overweight. How many other medications is he prescribed to treat conditions which could be eliminated by getting his body mass index down to a more healthful level? Presumably, he takes his medication week after week, month after month, when with the advice and counsel of his health care professional, he could actually cure himself through lifestyle changes. Now, who wouldn't do that?

C.D.Reid

So, what's your point? That overweight people can't think clearly enough to do their jobs properly? Or are you suggesting that the sheriff will read your comment and take your advice to do something about an issue which I'm sure he's already aware of?

CD

You do an admirable job of defending the sheriff....you and him are acquaintances in real life I can tell. Also I know illegal drugs coming over the border are concerning but there is legal Oxy widely available in the US...still

According to CNN, 25 state AGs wrote to US Attorney General, William Barr, objecting to the federal plan to dissolve Purdue and use its assets to form a government-controlled company that would essentially sell the same drug that greatly contributed to the deaths of over 450,000 Americans from 1999 to 2016; opiate drug overdoses account for approximately 45,000 deaths every year.

One State Attorney General expressed dismay at the fact that the federal government could have sent the Sackler family to prison rather than imposing fines that they may never fully pay. Every dollar paid in fines is one dollar that individual states will not be able to use in order to fund much-needed addiction treatment centers, pay for legal costs and put an end to the opioid epidemic, the Attorney General for Connecticut implied.

Despite the bankruptcy proceedings, states are likely to continue to seek settlement deals similar to the one made with Oklahoma.

For its part, the federal government maintains that for Americans with debilitating pain, OxyContin is an essential drug. Moreover, the plan to dissolve Purdue and run it under the auspices of the federal government also includes the production of life-saving overdose rescue drugs and medically-assisted treatment medications, which would be provided at steep discounts to communities hardest hit by the opioid crisis.

Our own government is the biggest drug pusher of OxyContin...the polite rich white people paid off the government, it's the polite rich white people you should be angry at...

https://blog.injurymatch.com/purdue-pharma-kingpin-of-the-opioid-crisis-hit-with-8-billion-in-penalties-but-oxycontin-still-available/

threecents

Oxy is not legal without a legit prescription, which is now difficult to get. Good luck to anyone with serious pain.

But remember what drug fentanyl users started with… Oxy.

Forgot to add...“Dopesick” primarily focuses on the late 1990s and 2000s, as Purdue Pharma aggressively marketed OxyContin to doctors and reports began streaming in about the drug’s high potential for addiction and overdose.

However, despite growing awareness of the drug’s lethal potential, law-enforcement crackdowns on “pill mills” run by shady physicians, and efforts to control the distribution of prescription opiates, the opioid epidemic rages on in 2021.

In other words Oxy is as easy to get as before.....OMG and there was talk of Oxy for children in Dopesick...I can't even wrap my head around that one...

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/oxycontin-and-the-opioid-epidemic-heres-the-truth-behind-the-hulu-series-dopesick#A-true-story-of-addiction-and-greed-

Macy said, “the crisis has only gotten worse,” even though control of prescription opiates has improved.

That’s because dealers have upped the available supply of heroin and fentanyl to meet the needs of users.

“The horse is out of the barn, and it’s really hard to go back,” she said.

“It’s important to keep in mind that the opiate epidemic is far from over,” said Dorschu.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this summer that drug overdose deaths increased by 30 percent in 2020 from the previous year...so when I said that before about this forum being pointless...

threecents

That is messed up if addicts can get it, but people who need it for pain cannot get it legally.

threecents

Because you recommended it, I just watched the first episode of Dopesick. It is a compelling show. The big deal in the story is the lie that oxy is not addictive, but now everyone knows it is addictive. I can see their claim that it addicts less than 1% of patients. A very high % of the US population - including me - has taken oxy for acute pain and not gotten addicted. In my case it was a tooth infection and it worked when nothing else would. Of course I knew it was potentially addictive, so I was careful with it. If I was told it was not addictive, then I might have used too much...

gabrielshorn2013

Three, you and I both know that there is no such thing as a non-addictive opioid. Any physician that says they didn't realize that Oxy was addictive didn't pay attention in med school. Also, as I wrote previously, every gram of a controlled substance must be accounted for, from manufacture, distribution, and final dispensing via the DEA ARCOS system. The failure for not reconciling receipt and outgoing amounts results in loss of both DEA and State controlled substance licensing. The only way someone gets such substances legally is with a prescription from a licensed physician who holds a DEA license. Why were physicians writing so many prescriptions?

threecents

Gabe, Yes to all your points. They discuss them in the show and how many doctors were tricked into thinking Oxy was not addictive due to its time release formulation, even though there was no data backing them up. They did this by hiring a lot of salespeople to lie about the product, and by bombarding rural areas with commercials hyping Oxy as a cure all treatment for everything from depression to chronic pain.

threecents

Also, the FDA apparently gave Oxy a special designation as being less addictive than other opioids. Apparently the chief FDA person responsible for that designation soon quit the FDA and then went to work for - you guess it - Perdue Pharmaceuticals...

armillary

Sorry if you missed my point. I think you got it and are taking it personally. I've seen your travel pictures.

C.D.Reid

CBP stats reflect more fentanyl being confiscated at our southern border during the first nine months of this year than in the last three years combined, a direct result of Biden's open arms/open border policies. There is no other reason for the massive amounts of that illegal drug coming into our country, no matter how his faithful sheeple try to spin it. No other reason whatsoever. Commenters here, and one in particular, have whined and harped on Sheriff Jenkins going down to the border to see first hand the damage Biden has caused there, and the fentanyl problem in Frederick County, as it is in countless counties across the country, is connected to the problems at the border, whether directly or indirectly. Officials touring to see, first hand, in person, problems and issues, like when a president visits a disaster area (hurricane, flooding, etc.) is a common practice, yet people here have b_tched over and over again about Jenkins' border trip, saying that "he needs to be protecting Frederick County, not the border," and mocking him for doing what Heels Up Harris has miserably failed to do ever since Biden appointed her in charge of the clusterf_ck that he, and he alone, created down there. There are 80 million reasons why the fentanyl problem in this country has gotten as bad as it has. Good job, folks.

MRS M

If, as seedie cites, it's in fact true that "more fentanyl is being confiscated at the border during the 1st nine months of the year than in the last 3 years combined" it proves 2 things:

Trump and Trump's "Wall" were both a con and an abject and total failure, just as most rational Americans understand ....and

Under Biden's leadership, we have evidence provided that all that drug being confiscated at the border, as cd quotes... is not traveling into America. Good job border agents and Biden administration!

C.D.Reid

There is no "if" about the truth to what I stated, MRS M, the stats are right there on the CBP website. And of course all that drug that is being confiscated is not traveling into the U.S., why would it be, it was CONFISCATED. Now, record amounts of fentanyl have been confiscated at the border. Do you think that that is all the fentanyl that smugglers are trying to get into this country and that, under Biden's "leadership," no other fentanyl is coming through the border? Congrats on being the first sucker for Biden to try to defend him here!

MRS M

Let the data speak, seedie. Let the data speak.

It makes a case far better than your lame attempts to support Trump at this late date.

We know you just can't give him up, but......it's sad.

gabrielshorn2013

https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/drug-seizure-statistics

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/fentanyl-seized-cbp-2021-2020/story?id=77744071

https://www.usatoday.com/border-wall/story/drug-trafficking-smuggling-cartels-tunnels/559814001/

shiftless88

CD: If it's being confiscated at an increased rate it can mean either 1) they are trying to smuggle more because the market is bigger or 2) enforcement has increased in effectiveness. Neither is supported by your information and neither is a result of your odd claim about "open borders".

threecents

Mrs M's point is that higher confiscation at the border does not mean more is getting through. do we know if more getting through?

C.D.Reid

Shift, the fact is Biden has tied the hands of the Border Patrol to the point where they are stretched so thinly that more miles of the border are now open for illegals to walk on in than have ever been before. So, whether there's an increase in demand for fentanyl or not, smugglers are taking advantage of what Biden has done to the border with his lack of security. Millions and millions of dollars worth of wall materials are not just sitting on the ground because he stopped construction of it, but it's also costing the American taxpayers millions and millions of dollars for those materials to sit there. And, before you get into a typically illogical, anti-wall tirade, the people who know better, the people who matter, the people who are vested in protecting our border, CBP, have all stated that the wall works and Trump having its construction continued when he was president made them much more efficient at doing their job. Biden's cessation of the wall's construction has not increased their effectiveness by any means, it has hindered it, and drastically at that.

phydeaux994

It’s the same thing with the people arrested at the Border. The majority never are admitted into the Country, they are sent back. Fentanyl comes from China and comes in through two routes, the Southern Border by the Mexican Cartels and the U.S. Mail. And Mr. Reid, what makes you an expert on the subject, the same whacko Right Wing websites a & a comes up with and you crazies believe every word of it.

C.D.Reid

Yes, MRS M, I'll let the data speak, and it speaks right here:

https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/drug-seizure-statistics

shiftless88

CD; again your logic fails. If they are stretched so thin, then how are arrests and confiscations up??

C.D.Reid

Really shift? I never said arrests were up, I quoted CBP stats that showed the amount of fentanyl confiscated in the first nine months of this year have exceeded the total amounts for the three previous years. Mexico is a major supplier of the drug to the U.S. and Biden has weakened our border's security. You can deny that all you want, you can try to defend that fool all you want, but the people who know, the people charged with maintaining our border, have put the blame on him and they're the ones who know.

Plumbum

sounds to me like the administration is working as expected. If they weren't doing as expected, we would not know that fentanyl is up. one plus one equals two.

threecents

[thumbup]Mrs M

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. No vulgar, racist, sexist or sexually-oriented language.
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TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
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