Project director Monica Wilke-Brown says the grant will help stop the growing epidemic of abuse. She says both the deaths associated with opioid overdoses and the hospital admissions for treatment have increased dramatically in the last 10 years. “So, we are really trying to get the issue under control where it has already become a big problem, and also prevent it from becoming a bigger in the communities that are less affected at this point,” Wilke says.
She says the grant will allow them to increase the use of the successful treatment methods that have already been developed. “We want to expand it across the entire state so that all the counties and service areas have the chance to do the same thing,” Wilke says.
Part of the process involves doing a community assessment. She says the agencies in communities will bring together everyone in the community and look for any gaps or needs in coverage and will be able to focus on prevention efforts, the prescription monitoring program and expand the treatment options.
“We’ll have a formula specific to a variety of both kind of highest need and size of the service area. So, it’s not by county specifically. Some service providers share a county and some cover up to 10 or more counties,” Wilke explains. She says they will try several different strategies.
“One of them is promoting the CDC guidelines for prescribing opioid medications,” Wilke says, “because we know that a lot of people who end up with opioid use disorders may have started with a legitimate prescription that got out of control.”
Wilke says another key component is education in preventing overdose deaths. “Making sure people are aware of naloxone — which is the overdose reversal drug. That can be very instrumental in saving someone’s life if they have accidentally overdosed it,” Wilke says.
The $5.45 million grant comes from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which is part of the U.S. Health and Human Services Opioid Initiative.