THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC

November 2021

JUST ONE ISSUE OF A MUCH BIGGER PROBLEM!

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, “addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences.”

They go on to say that: “Prevention efforts and treatment approaches for addiction are generally as successful as those for other chronic diseases.”

The opioid epidemic was a wake-up call and because it is so pervasive and life altering to so many Americans and Delawareans, we often forget the bigger picture around addiction. We focus resources on stopping the death rates through medical assisted treatment, prescription management and naloxone training. These, I agree, are important, and while we are making strides in putting the pieces together to address overdose rates, we are missing the mark when it comes to prevention. With a growing number of mental health related issues among all ages, increased alcohol consumption (a gateway to harder drug use), availability and access to a myriad of drugs and the emerging pipeline of methamphetamines, we may be missing the bigger picture…Social and Emotional Community Wellness!

What strategies create an environment for our youth, families, and communities using prevention methods which allows the choice for healthfulness over substance use and addictive behaviors?

Addressing their immediate needs, yes, but stemming the tide must be a priority! Getting involved with the youth and increased prevention are a constant conversation, but the resources from a financial and programmatic standpoint are insufficient to create a culture of love, support, acceptance, and resilience that limit engagement in early, unhealthy choices and behaviors. If we look so long on the horizon without the proper vessel, provisions, and map, this journey will not end well.

SCHC may not have a lot of resources, staff, and products, but what we lack in capacity we make up for in collaboration, passion, expertise, and commitment. In the last three years, through the generosity of High Mark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Delaware and other local partners, we have reached over 150,000 Delawareans with messaging, over 2,500 youth with programming and support, over 200 organizations with education and products and put out over $100,000 in resources to create awareness, educate and support our partners and community.

What do you think we could we have accomplished if we were well resourced, more strategic in our work with adequate resources aligned more deliberately with state initiatives? Our CDC study, funded through Discover Bank, demonstrates our ability to create awareness saturation by 600%, prevention efforts by over 100%, as well as an increase in support services. This, along with the state’s treatment efforts are making gains, but these initial steps are not enough! SCHC is a grass roots organization that uses a collaborative effort, and we can do so much more! We hear how important collaboratives are from partners, state agencies, and even mandated through funders and yet, as important as it is, sustainable funding strategies on collective impact collaboration is missing. In this leaders’ 16 years, several Healthy Neighborhood’s lead, Healthy Community supporter, credible collaboratives still must fi ght to prove our worth and cobble together inadequate funding streams to support our partners and align critical work.

Isn’t it time to create a sustainable funding stream for this critical community component? Dollars consistently go to restudy the community and its issues! The community says enough! When will we as a state truly seek to resource initiatives and partnership collaboratively so that: capacity meets passion, collective competencies regulate spending priorities, and true community integrative work can create impact through  nancial empowerment and community advocacy? When will Delaware be BOLD and prioritize all its citizens by robustly supporting  nancially the strategies to address the growing tide of our public health crisis statewide?

“I know we want a working Delaware! Don’t our citizens need and deserve to be healthy to do so?”

Peggy M. Geisler
Executive Director


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