LONOKE COUNTY, Ark. (KTHV) - The Lonoke County Sheriff's Office is launching a new initiative in the fight against drug addiction.

“A very high percentage of the problems that we're having with the crime go fall back on the narcotics and illegal substances,” said Capt. David Bufford, a spokesperson for the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office.

LCSO hopes to get a handle on that crime – and ultimately change the path of offenders – through the Peers Achieving Collaborative Treatment (PACT) Project, which will launch at the county jail in 2019.

“It's about doing what's best for the public; you cannot arrest this problem away,” Bufford said.

Through a grant awarded by the State Drug Director’s office, Lonoke County will hire a Peer Recovery Support Specialist to identify and help inmates battling drug addiction. The support specialist will be someone in recovery who can use their own experiences in helping inmates live a life free from addiction.

“They've been there,” Bufford said. “This specialist will be able to better come in and relate to the offender and do their best to try to get them help.”

According to the sheriff’s office, the peer specialist will:

  • Conduct one-on-one sessions working on goal setting, case management, housing needs, and relationship connections to a recovery community
  • Facilitate recovery group meetings
  • Help to develop life skills
  • Manage cases
  • Integrate personal changes in social communities
  • Use their personal recovery stories to produce hope within clients.

“We want to reach out to these addicts and do our very best as law enforcement to give them the tools necessary that hopefully, they're able to kick the habit,” Bufford said.

Funding will come from a part of a $10-million federal grant Arkansas received to improve addiction prevention and treatment services.