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:
The Community Opiate Overdose Prevention Coalition helps combat the opioid epidemic in the county. Members include government and community partners, including criminal justice, emergency services, public health and human services personnel.
A warm handoff program is underway as a cooperative effort between the county and its three local hospital emergency departments. This program is designed to immediately connect overdose survivors to recovery specialists.
Cumberland County's Opioid Intervention Court is the first in Pennsylvania and only the second court of its kind in the United States. It's an early intervention program designed to address the treatment needs for people with an opiate abuse history. The goal is preventing fatal overdoses and saving lives. This is a voluntary program that consists of 30 court appearances as well as daily attendance at either drug counseling or NA/AA type meetings.
The Cumberland County Commissioners secured two years of free access to naloxone kits from the State for first responders, addressing costs of naloxone use by emergency medical providers. Holy Spirit Geisinger EMS serves as the coordinator for this program, which is funded by the PA Commission on Crime & Delinquency. This program expires in late 2019.
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.
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.
All of Cumberland County's municipal police departments have been trained and are equipped to use Naloxone. This allows our local police to administer Naloxone, giving those who overdose a better chance of surviving.
The opioid epidemic has contributed to a significant increase in out-of-home placements for children receiving County-managed child welfare services. With Capital Area Behavioral Health Collaborative 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.
Large-scale town hall meetings about the opioid crisis have been held in many of our local communities.The program features a panel of speakers, including the District Attorney, the County Coroner and representatives from EMS, substance abuse treatment and recovery services.
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.
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.