The Wyoming County Hope Coalition shared a positive update on the opioid crisis in the county at its meeting on Thursday (July 11).
Director of Wyoming County Human Services and coalition leader Mike Donahue said tracking of the number of overdoses in Wyoming County has improved.
“And they continue to go down,” he said, noting that the coalition’s work, especially naloxone distribution, has benefited the community.
Wyoming County Emergency Management Agency Director Gene Dziak said all emergency personnel in the county now carry naloxone.
“We are at five deaths and one pending for this year to date, which is slower than where we were last year,” Dziak noted.
Of course, Donahue said decreasing overdoses does not mean the coalition’s work is done, because the goal is zero overdoses.
“I don’t want to see anybody die of a drug overdose in Wyoming County,” he said.
Donahue also reminded that not all opioids are illegal, as 80 percent of opioids on the street are obtained through the legal process of filling a prescription.
Referencing the progression of the crisis that came to a head when Nanticoke and Hanover Township experienced six overdoses in seven days back in 1997, he said the opioid problem didn’t happen overnight.
“We’re not getting out of this overnight,” he said. “But I can tell you Wyoming County and this coalition is extremely busy doing everything in its power to do the right thing and to get the answers for this area.”
After breaking off into subcommittees, coalition members returned with updates.
The prevention subcommittee has plans to hold a community event at the Wyoming County Courthouse on Saturday, Sept. 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The event will include resource tables, refreshments, activities for children and possibly entertainment from the Breaking Ground Poets.
A winner has been selected for the subcommittee’s poster contest with the Tunkhannock Area STEM Academy, who they hope to recognize at the community event.
This fall, the Hope Coalition plans to unveil the poster on a billboard in Wyoming County.
An individual in the recovery subcommittee has written a newspaper letter to the editor highlighting his accomplishments as someone in recovery.
Recovery subcommittee members want to continue encouraging those in recovery to share stories of their achievements and promoting awareness in Wyoming County.
The subcommittee has been assisting with Trehab’s community resource center, which recently opened its doors on Warren Street in Tunkhannock.
A grand opening for the center has not yet been set.
The center offers a variety of resources, including certified recovery specialists, assistance with workforce development and wellness practices such as yoga and meditation.
“It allows you to become open minded because there’s many pathways to recovery,” said Lindsey Lohmann, a member of the recovery subcommittee.
Meanwhile, the treatment committee had a conversation about medication assisted treatment.
Going forward, the subcommittee plans to make sure those in recovery are informed about their options regarding MAT and also obtain data about access to MAT in Wyoming County.
Jaime Fawcett, the coalition’s connection with the University of Pittsburgh, plans to give a presentation to members about the different types of MAT and their effects.
The coordination subcommittee plans to put its energy into the community event, as well as Recovery Advocacy Day in Harrisburg on Sept. 25.
This subcommittee also plans to pursue funding through the Wyoming County Community Health Foundation and look into having the foundation host a series on MAT since its dual diagnosis series last year was a success.
The strategic plan is also in the process of being updated with input from members.
The Hope Coalition plans to meet again at the Dietrich Theater on Thursday, Sept. 12 at 9:30 a.m.
When people Donahue is the coalition plans to cap its number of members, he said the answer is “no.”
“I want all hands on deck,” he said.