What are we doing?

The national opioid epidemic has had a devastating effect on families and communities throughout Cumberland County. Over the past three years the County has identified the following broad goals as part of a comprehensive strategy for addressing this multi-faceted public health crisis.

  • Reduce the oversupply of prescription opioid painkillers in our communities.
  • Continue strong drug enforcement efforts to reduce the supply of illicit opiates.
  • Increase access to naloxone, the opioid overdose antidote medication.  
  • Increase access to substance abuse treatment and recovery support services.
  • Promote community and school drug and alcohol prevention and early intervention efforts.
  • Raise overall community awareness about the opioid epidemic emphasizing how individuals and families can contribute to overall efforts.

Activities within Cumberland County included:

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The Community Opiate Overdose Prevention (COOP) Coalition was formed to lead the effort in pursuing the goals above. Members include government and community partners from diverse backgrounds, including criminal justice, emergency services, public health and human services.

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A warm handoff program is being developed as a cooperative effort between the County and the three local hospital emergency departments. It will feature Certified Recovery Specialists, who will work to secure treatment referrals for overdose survivors.

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In December 2017 the County received a grant from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) and PCCD to implement an Opioid Intervention Court. This pilot pre-trial project is designed to fast track non-violent offenders with opioid use disorders into a specialized program of treatment, recovery support and court supervision activities.

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In November 2017, the County Commissioners secured two years of free access to Naloxone kits from the State for first responders. This helps address the unreimbursed costs of Naloxone use by emergency medical providers. Holy Spirit Geisinger EMS serves as coordinator for this program, which is funded by the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD).

Vivitrol

In June 2017, the County implemented a two-year pilot Vivitrol program for non-violent, opiate addicted criminal justice offenders at Cumberland County Prison. Funding for the project was secured from the PA Department of Corrections. To date, there have been 25 participants in the program.

Task Force

With leadership from the District Attorney’s Office, six municipal police departments (Hampden Township, East Pennsboro Township, Upper Allen Township, Silver Spring Township, Carlisle Borough and Mechanicsburg Borough) have committed personnel to the Cumberland County Drug Task Force, strengthening countywide enforcement efforts.

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County-managed treatment services were expanded to allow increased access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for individuals with opioid use disorders. MAT options include Methadone, Suboxone and Vivitrol.

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All 13 municipal police departments in Cumberland County have arranged for their officers to be trained and equipped with Naloxone. Since October 2015, local police have administered Naloxone to 194 individuals. In 166 (85.6%) of these cases, there was a successful reversal and a life was saved.

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The Capital Area Behavioral Health Collaborative (CABHC) reinvestment program and the Carlisle Area Partnership for Better Health provided financial support to Gaudenzia, Inc. for an expansion in detox beds at its Common Ground treatment facility in Harrisburg.

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The opioid epidemic has contributed to a significant increase in out-of-home placements for children receiving County-managed child welfare services. In January 2017, with CABHC reinvestment funding, the County added recovery support services for parents at risk of losing custody of their children, due to a substance abuse disorder. This is a joint project between Children & Youth, the Drug & Alcohol Commission and The RASE Project.

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Large-scale town hall meetings about the opioid crisis have been held in five communities: Shippensburg, East Pennsboro, Newville, South Middleton Township and Upper Allen Township. The program features a panel of speakers, including the District Attorney, the County Coroner and representatives from EMS, substance abuse treatment and recovery services. To date, more than 470 individuals have participated in these events.

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In collaboration with the County’s Drug and Alcohol Commission, the Carlisle Area Partnership for Better Health has convened a Task Force on Opioid Prescribing with physicians throughout Cumberland County.  This group is attempting to increase use of new best practice guidelines for prescribing opioid painkillers and to encourage a shift in patient expectations regarding pain management.

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A total of 21 Medication Collection Boxes are available throughout Cumberland County for safe disposal of unused medication. More than 4,000 pounds of medications were collected in the first year these boxes were available.

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A total of 54 opiate awareness presentations have been provided to a wide range of audiences – church groups, service clubs, school groups, medical practitioners, parents, criminal justice staff, human service personnel and college students. More than 1,800 have attended these events.

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Information is provided to individuals and families who want to access Naloxone, without a prescription, by using the standing order provided by the state Physician General.