A coalition here is hoping to tackle the county’s substance abuse issues.
Dozens of representatives from a variety of sectors sitting on the Clark County Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Coalition recently helped develop a set of goals and objectives to address the issue.
Wendy Doolittle is the chairperson for the coalition and the CEO for local treatment facility McKinley Hall.
“If there is any sector that hasn’t realized this is impacting them, they’ve got to be asleep. It’s affecting everyone,” Doolittle said of the reach substance abuse has throughout Clark County.
The coalition formed to collectively fight drug and alcohol addiction and provide community resources. At a meeting Friday, it debuted a strategic plan clarifying the coalition’s goals and direction.
It determined objectives to reduce and prevent substance abuse and create a system support and resources.
“So much money goes to treatment because we’re trying to handle this crisis,” said Doolittle. “But if we don’t do anything with prevention, when does the crisis stop?”
Doolittle said in 2017, the county tallied 105 overdose deaths, averaging out to about two deaths per week.
The treatment center CEO said that average has already dropped, with fewer than 12 overdose deaths as of early April 2018. She credited increased awareness, stricter law enforcement and wider availability of overdose reversal drug Narcan, but acknowledged there is room for improvement.
In strategic plan set a goal to reduce overdose deaths by 10 percent by the end of 2018. It also calls for reduced OVIs, drug-positive births and children out of homes due to substance abuse.
On the prevention side, the plan lays out several strategies to bring educational programs to school and involve the business community in workplace initiatives.
The coalition also hopes to create a connected system to make it easier to receive substance abuse treatment.
Doolittle said it may not be realistic to create a completely addiction-free community, but the coalition wants to see a dramatic improvement.
“It’s no different than saying, ‘Can we eradicate cancer? Can we eradicate high blood pressure or diabetes?’ But it’s certainly something we can work towards and get the numbers way down,” she said.
A grant will help kickstart the plan and hire a full-time coalition coordinator.
Later this spring, the coalition will adjust and create its measurable goals with updated statistics.