Addressing Prescription Opioid and Heroin Dependency
“Drug overdose deaths have become the leading cause of injury death in the United States, surpassing the number of deaths by motor vehicles and by firearms every year since 2008. Overdose deaths, particularly from prescription drugs and heroin, have reached epidemic levels.” – 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary, U.S Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Authority
Many donors to the 50th Anniversary Fundraising Campaign directed that their donations go directly to addressing prescription opioid and heroin misuse in this community through education, treatment, and recovery support. The prescription opioid and heroin crisis is a national epidemic, and rural Maine is clearly not immune.
Island Health & Wellness Foundation has partnered with a newly formed organization, Opiate-Free Island Partnership (OFIP), whose sole mission is to focus on the opiate crisis, without the distraction of other competing priorities. The OFIP Board and committees include several current and former members of IH&WF; Healthy Island Project; Island Education Revitalization Committee; the CSD#13 Superintendent; high school principal and school nurse; a CSD#13 school board member; and the Maine State Representative for the Deer-Isle Stonington community.
IH&WF has granted OFIP $30,000 for the period July 2017-June 2018, which allowed OFIP to leverage into a $74,000 community partnership for year one, including a $20,000 warrant request from the Town of Deer Isle, a commitment by CSD#13 to repurpose $20,000 within the school budget for substance abuse education, and a $4,000 grant from a local foundation with interests in substance abuse education.
OFIP education funding will support programs for students in grades K-12 about the dangers of drugs and ways to avoid them, based on the 5-year substance abuse prevention plan approved by the School Board in October 2016. It will include additional substance abuse counselor resources for curriculum development, substance abuse prevention presentations, updating of the health curriculum on substance abuse issues, and materials and staff development for student resiliency education, among other projects.
OFIP treatment and recovery support funding will also go to Island Family Medicine, Aroostook Mental Health Center, and other recovery support providers, as required, to expand the availability of substance abuse treatment and recovery support on the Island. Treatment and recovery programs will include some or all of the following: a free and confidential 24/7 hotline to help members of the Deer Isle-Stonington community navigate the bewildering array of treatment and recovery options; availability of additional treatment and counseling at Island Family Medicine, potentially including support for patient co-pays as needed; support for a Narcotics Anonymous group for Island residents; training for local recovery coaches, and other programs.