Deschutes County is receiving $420,000 in federal funding for a new program to help combat the opioid crisis.
The money will fund the Peer Pilot Project, which will connect those who have recovered from addiction with those who are currently struggling with it. Peers will engage high-risk individuals who have been difficult to reach and bring them into services and treatments.
Janice Garceau , the county’s deputy director of behavioral health, presented the projected to county commissioners on Wednesday.
” Well, it’s critical, ” Garceau said. ” People are dying because of their addiction to either opioids or other substances. ”
Two months ago, Deschutes County declared opioid addiction a public health crisis.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that five people a week die of drug overdoses in Oregon and five people a day die of alcohol-related causes.
Over-prescription of opioids is one of the leading causes of addiction.
Erin Solomon, who coordinates public health agencies to combat opioid addiction, said opioids can be a slippery slope.
” An opioid by itself within the first few days does help with pain, but after that, the risk of addiction increases by a lot, ” Solomon said.
According to SAMHSA , Oregon ranks as the worst state for access to mental health and substance abuse treatment. The Peer Pilot Project will look to change that statistic.
Funding for the project will last through June 2021. Next week county commissioners will decide how the funds will be allocated for the project.
Garceau hopes the project will start before the end of year but said early 2020 is more likely.
According to Garceau , the Peer Pilot Project will fight at ground zero of the opioid crisis.
” It’s critical to get funding to communities quickly, to get folks on the ground to address the opioid crisis and other addictions, which is what these funds allow us to do, ” Garceau said.