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The 1st District Drug Court program has stopped its weekly gatherings for the foreseeable future. The decision went into effect on March 17.

“We especially want people to understand that we are not shutting down treatment,” said Brock Alder, the substance abuse division director for the Bear River Health Department. “We’re just changing for a little while how we’re doing it.”

Holly Budge, the public health resource manager for Bear River Health Department, said participants in the Drug Court program will continue to receive treatment through phone counseling and TeleHealth.

“It’s similar to if you were doing a FaceTime call,” Budge said, “but it’s highly secure — HIPAA compliant.”

Alder said drug testing, with modifications to account for proper social distancing, will continue.

“The people in the Drug Court system need to know that they could be called (for a drug test) any day,” Alder said.

Budge said the decision came from the Utah Supreme Court and would stay in effect until the order is lifted. Alder said it would at the very least last until the end of March.

“It’s hard to predict how long this will go,” Budge said. “We all wish right now we had that crystal ball.”

Alder said counseling for Drug Court participants as well as the phases of the program are unlikely to be hindered. However, Alder said the recognition from the judge in addition to a Drug Court graduation slated for April may be affected.

“I think most will be OK,” Alder said.

Budge said immune function is generally compromised when dealing with addiction, which could put them at risk. Alder said stress from the pandemic could affect the sobriety for those in the Drug Court program.

“People who are feeling stressed turn back to behaviors that they’ve turned to in the past,” Alder said. “It’s a very real concern.”

Budge said it’s important for those in the Drug Court program to maintain contact with the health department during this time.

Alder said nearly everyone is stressed in the current landscape — probably more than they realize. Budge said anyone in the community experiencing mental health concerns, stress or anxiety is encouraged to reach out to the health department. The health department offers a 24-hour helpline in addition to WIC services to people struggling financially.

“We just want to be available,” Alder said. “We’re here.”

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For the Cache and Rich county helpline, call (435)881-0358.

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