As federal grant funding ends, state efforts aimed at preventing overdoses and deaths tied to prescription drugs and opioids are changing but continuing, according to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH).
The WDH Substance Abuse Prevention Program (SAPP) first received the Grant to Prevent Prescription Drug/Opioid Overdose-Related Deaths from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in 2016. The grant ended on August 31st; Wyoming was not selected to receive another round of funding.
Rachel Nuss, SAPP manager with WDH, said much was accomplished over the past five years with the grant funding to help prevent prescription drugs/opioids overdoses and deaths:
- More than 8,000 doses of NARCAN®, a temporary opioid overdose antidote, were distributed to law enforcement agencies, emergency medical services, pharmacies, schools, the University of Wyoming and other organizations.
- Thousands of drug deactivation bags, and hundreds of locking pill bottles and boxes were purchased and distributed throughout the state. These items help prevent prescription drugs from being used by someone without a prescription.
- More than 950 Wyoming residents have received online NARCAN® administration training through SAPP to date. This option remains available and can be found online at https://www.getnaloxonenow.org/#gettraining. The training is free for people who enter a Wyoming address on the site.
“We understand the importance of these services,” Nuss said. “Although this funding source is no longer available, work is still being done to help prevent prescription drug/opioid overdoses and misuse in Wyoming.”
Official WDH records show annual deaths attributed to overdoses in Wyoming have increased between some years and decreased at other times. In 2020, 89 overdose deaths were recorded among Wyoming residents compared to 81 in 2019, 65 in 2018, 60 in 2017, 94 in 2016, 95 in 2015, 107 in 2014, 96 in 2013, 99 in 2012 and 81 in 2011.
Nuss said SAPP continues to fund county prevention specialists who work on a variety of substance abuse prevention services in 22 of Wyoming’s 23 counties. Prevention services include creating and updating policies, reducing access to prescription drugs through drug take-back events and promoting prescription drug drop boxes, safe storage and safe disposal methods, in addition to providing educational resources as needed.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is also available throughout Wyoming and is a proven treatment of opioid use disorders in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies. The WDH Behavioral Health Division contracts for MAT services and other opioid use disorder treatment services with regional community substance abuse treatment providers. Services from community substance abuse treatment providers are available regardless of an individual’s ability to pay. MAT and other opioid use disorder treatment services may also be available from other local certified providers. To locate a community substance abuse treatment provider or certified provider, visit https://health.wyo.gov/behavioralhealth/mhsa/treatment.
The Overdose Response Strategy Office (ORS), part of the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, is funded by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy through High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas. This office is intended to include a drug intelligence officer and a public health analyst. The ORS will work with public health to identify trends and resources that may help reduce overdoses. For more information on services available through the ORS, please contact Casey Patterson at [email protected]
Should future funding and program opportunities become available, they will be announced for stakeholders and the public if they become available.