With new funding from the Nord Family Foundation, Altarum will help identify and evaluate available resources and offer recommendations on how services could be better coordinated to combat the opioid epidemic in Lorain County, OH—where recent overdose deaths from opioids are more than twenty times higher than in years past.
The Altarum team also will conduct an expansive, national environmental scan to identify best practices for implementing a coordinated approach to the opioid epidemic. Further, Altarum will supplement this information by quantifying the scope and economic impact of the issue, arming Lorain County with the evidence required to rally broad support to address the crisis.
This work comes on the heels of the President declaring the opioid crisis a national emergency, and as increasing numbers of Americans are in need of opioid treatment and recovery resources and services, but are struggling to locate and access these supports.
Altarum has for more than twenty years been helping communities expand treatment and recovery-oriented systems of care and developing tools to successfully implement recovery support services for substance use challenges.
“Treatment and recovery services need to be effectively delivered to individuals seeking help for prescription drug misuse and other substance use disorders,” said Diana Williams, director of Altarum’s Behavioral Health Technical Assistance Center (BHTAC). “Recovery support services help people repair the parts of their lives that were affected by a substance use disorder, and are necessary to prevent individuals from returning to using substances.”
To ensure that those who are in need of these services are able to access them, the Altarum team will use geographic information system mapping technology to develop a countywide map that will display treatment and recovery services available in different parts of Lorain County. This will also make it easier to identify which areas have the greatest needs.
“The opioid emergency is one of the most urgent health issues facing the country today,” said Lincoln Smith, president and CEO of Altarum. “Altarum is at the forefront of addressing the crisis on both sides of the spectrum—prevention and recovery. In addition to the technical assistance that the BHTAC is providing for treatment and recovery services, Altarum experts are educating providers on safe prescribing practices, promoting the effective use of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, and providing safety tracking and medical information services for opioid-overdose reversal products.”
The Altarum team will undertake this work as Ohio is leading the country in deaths from opioid overdoses, with Lorain County comprising a significant portion of that total. The County is investing in collaborative, cross-agency approaches to address the epidemic.