GREENVILLE — Darke County families who struggle with opioid use disorder (OUD) will soon start to see the benefits of over $900,000 in grant funding rolling out within the community.
As a Wave 1 participant in the National Institutes of Health’s HEALing Communities Study, the Coalition for a Healthy Darke County, the county’s local health and wellness collaborative, is working with grant employees, hired locally by The Ohio State University and University of Cincinnati. Their goal is to identify key service areas where grant monies can make a difference in the lives of those with OUD, and ultimately, to decrease the number of opioid overdose deaths by 40 percent.
In Darke County, key service areas identified so far include expansion of naloxone (Narcan) distribution, transportation resources for those involved in treatment programs, expansion of medications and counseling services for those with opioid use disorder, and the hiring of a Community Health Worker who will help organize and provide resources and support for families interested in exploring treatment options.
“This is one of the largest grants Darke County has ever received to combat OUD,” says Dr. Laurie White, Director of Behavioral Health and Wellness Services at Family Health, “and we are working diligently with community partners to ensure this funding will significantly benefit and impact our county for years to come.” Dr. White leads the local Intervention Committee, a group of service providers who work together to explore key priorities and evidence-based practices meant to expand services and support.
Another key component of the grant involves reducing stigma toward those who battle substance use disorders.
“We have a lot of stigma across the country with people just not understanding the disease of addiction and in some cases, even subscribing to the belief that we are wasting resources trying to help them,” says Cynthia Cook-Wion, Executive Director of Recovery & Wellness Services of Darke County. She continues, “We need to move past this stigma, and to recognize addiction as the disease it is, in order to save the lives of local community members who need our support.”
The research also involves the collection of data about opioid use, overdose and treatment in Darke County as well as tracking the success of specific efforts to combat the opioid crisis.
“Data is central to helping us pinpoint where our hot spots are and where we need to focus our efforts,” said Brian Phillips, Assistant Chief of Greenville Township EMS and the leader of the Data Committee. “Data will also help us better understand how our efforts through the grant might lessen the problem and assist the county in applying for additional funding in the future.”
The grant has initiated a website with local resources, including the availability of free naloxone (Narcan) and sites where individuals can receive medications for opioid use disorder, at www.HealTogetherOH.org/Darke. The Coalition’s Facebook page (@DarkeCoalition) and website, www.CoalitionDarkeCounty.com, are also helpful with a wide range of community resources listed.
For questions about the HEALing Communities Study, please contact Amy Farmer, Community Engagement Coordinator, at [email protected]