Joint collaborations between agencies can be a step to combatting a community’s drug problems, according to Sheriff Maj. Jeremy Wilkinson, of the Guernsey County Sheriff’s Office.

Collaborations between agencies serves to educate the people about what is going on and that agencies are working together as a whole rather than individually to combat the problem.

’We can’t just arrest our way out of the addiction, there is not enough jail space,” Wilkinson said. “Ultimately, you get to a point where you are not arresting as many people to free up jail space for something else. We can impact this (addiction), though, through counseling with arrest with law enforcement married up or teamed up with treatment services. This is the key.”

Wilkinson is involved with Change (Creating Hope Awareness New Goals and Education). Change is a program offered through the Guernsey County Jail to inmates battling addiction.

The program which utilizes services such as the health department, Jobs and Family Services (JFS) and Guernsey Health Choices to educate and counsel inmates not only on their addiction but functioning in society afterwards is the product of a $400,000 Department of Justice Systems Level Diversion Projects grant awarded to Guernsey Health Services, according to Kate Paul, assistant director at Guernsey Health Choices.

Photo by Michael Neilson,