Hi, my name is Sarah. I work for The Recovery Center and am the jail clinician for the Harold Rogers Grant. Right now I have a bachelor’s degree in Substance Abuse Counseling, but I’m working toward my master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I am thrilled to embrace this opportunity to work in our local jail because I am passionate about using my skills to make a positive impact in my own community.
What is the Harold Rogers Grant:
Fairfield County was awarded the Harold Rogers Grant in an effort to learn how opiates effect our community. You can read more about the grant here.
What I do:
When each inmate is booked into the Fairfield County Minimum Security Jail, they are given a short substance abuse screening. Each morning I pick up the previous day’s list of inmates, their charges, and their screenings from the head nurse at the jail. I then go through each screening and “score” them. One of my main responsibilities through the Harold Rogers Grant is to give inmates an extensive assessment. I use the scores from the screenings to identify which inmates are eligible for the more extensive assessment.
The assessment asks more in-depth questions than the initial screening. Some of the questions include: arrest record, street drug use and abuse, prescription drug use and abuse, past and current addiction treatment, past and current mental health treatment, significant adults (mom, dad, grandparents) with substance abuse problems, history of physical, emotional, sexual and neglect abuse, access to medical care, consequences of drug and alcohol use and presence/lack of social support. Each inmate that agrees to an assessment also agrees to be tracked after their release. This allows us to check to see if they’ve sought follow-up care for their addictions and if they are re-incarcerated at a later date.
The questions on the assessment, and the emotions they bring to the surface, are pretty intense. While an inmate talks about the answers to these questions, I provide support and encouragement. These deep conversations allow me to build a rapport with each inmate. I’m hopeful that the inmates learn that I am not a threat and that they can be honest and open with me. When a newly booked inmate tells me that a current inmate encouraged them to take part in my services, I feel like the work I’m doing is really beginning to make an impact.
All inmates, regardless of their eligibility to take the longer assessment, are invited to join the weekly education group I teach. This group focuses on understanding how addiction affects people physically, psychologically, emotionally and mentally. I try to keep our group conversations open, so that the inmates can share their thoughts and experiences about what I’m teaching. If any of them have questions regarding community resources, I provide them with the names of local treatment resources, food pantries, medical care facilities, and shelters. My hope is that this education will assist the inmates in seeking treatment after release, help them begin to change the way they perceive addiction, and maintain their sobriety in the long term.
Each day is a challenge and an adventure. Every inmate has his or her unique story and I feel honored that so many of them have chosen to share that story with me. My goal as the jail clinician for the Harold Rogers grant is to assist the inmates with finding hope as well as realizing their potential and the possibilities that await them if they are able to address their drug and/or alcohol addiction.