The Wyoming County Hope Coalition has new plans in mind for 2020 to end the opioid epidemic.
Since 2017, the coalition has brought together medical and social service providers, elected officials, law enforcement and those in recovery from substance use disorder to enact change.
On Jan. 9, Wyoming County Director of Human Services Mike Donahue led the coalition’s first meeting of 2020, calling on each of its subcommittees to figure out three goals for the new year.
Donahue also spoke about the successes of 2019, thanking members for their dedication.
“You guys all care and I commend you for that,” he said.
This includes the opening of Trehab’s Community Resource Center in Tunkhannock, September’s Wyoming County Recovery Celebration and more.
“I really think this coalition has moved more than most across the state,” Donahue said.
Wyoming County Emergency Management Agency Director Gene Dziak added that in the last three months, EMS Narcan usage has dropped dramatically.
Since November, there hasn’t been a need to reissue the drug, which could reverse an opioid overdose, he said. Dziak also noted that there could be explanations for this, such as Narcan becoming widely available to the public.
Also in attendance was Wyoming County Commissioner Tom Henry, who said use of methamphetamine has risen in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties.
Cammie Anderson, a prevention education specialist with the Tunkhannock Area School District, and Howard Heise with Children & Youth said they have observed a rise in meth usage with adults in Wyoming County as well.
“It’s just a whole different type of abuse,” Henry said.
Donahue said in the new year, he hopes the coalition could prioritize work on juveniles with substance use disorders, as many juvenile centers have been shut down over the years.
After breaking off into groups, the subcommittees shared their upcoming goals.
Prevention/Community Awareness: The subcommittee wants to plan a panel discussion this spring, with the topic to be decided. Sept. 19 has been set for the next Recovery Celebration at the courthouse, so members hope to get ahead on preparing for the event. Depending on the turnout of the panel discussion, the subcommittee discussed inviting panelists back to host individual educational events about specific topics.
Coordination: Members discussed the possibility of the Hope Coalition developing an online presence through social media and/or a website, as well as hosting a series similar to one put on with the coalition’s partners at the University of Pittsburgh in 2018. Commissioner Henry also said he would contact Luzerne-Wyoming Counties Drug & Alcohol to ensure that Wyoming County has a voice in the hiring process for an open administrative position.
Recovery: Members are planning a recovery dance for April 25 and also looking ahead to this September’s Recovery Celebration.
Treatment: The subcommittee plans to promote a new case management service at the county correctional facility that will help inmates receive treatment for substance use, thanks to a $600,000 grant that the county District Attorney’s office received from the U.S. Department of Justice. Members will also continue to assess the medication assisted treatment needs in Wyoming County, as well as the need for a holistic approach to treatment with an emphasis on spirituality. Additionally, the subcommittee wants to expand usage of certified recovery specialists and look into mobile CRS services that can be utilized in the hospital as needed.