Agencies Leverage Opioid Funds To De-stigmatize Addiction

Apr 26, 2018

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Five agencies around Wyoming will split a $2-million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a federal organization, to help combat opioid abuse in the state. It’s a national five-year grant program and this is the second year Wyoming has received it. 

Volunteers of America in the Northern Rockies is one of the five grant recipients. Its director of behavioral health, Kelly Buckingham, said her program is using part of the funding to educate doctors in the area.

“There appears to be a high [rate] of overprescribing for our population,” Buckingham said. “That number has actually gone down, but it’s working with providers to educate on the benefits of alternative pain medications.”

She said Wyoming has the fifth highest rate of over-prescribing in the country.

The money will go toward educating and de-stigmatizing opioid addiction, both in Fremont County and on the Wind River Reservation, Buckingham added. Both have high rates of abuse. But Buckingham says this money only goes so far. “Fortunately, with this grant, we’re able to offset some of the cost of substance use treatment and/or medication costs. But some of the population doesn’t have access to the availability to pay for ongoing treatment. We need more funding and more resources to get people into treatment and helping families, as well.”

She said Fremont is one of five counties in the state that exceeds the national average for opioid abuse.

High Country Behavioral Health in Evanston, Central Wyoming Counseling Center in Casper, Yellowstone Behavioral Health in Cody, Southwest Counseling Services in Rock Springs and Northern Wyoming Mental Health in Sheridan will also receive grant funds to improve understanding of the issue in those communities, as well.