The Lincoln County Commissioners heard from County Prevention Specialist Brittany Ritter at their meeting on Tuesday, April 9, in Kemmerer.
The Lincoln County Prevention organization works to educate the county and prevent substance abuse and suicide.
Ritter told the commissioners that the organization had secured a grant to provide the Lincoln County Sheriff’s department with a supply of the drug naloxone.
Naloxone can reverse opioid overdoses in emergency situations. It is packaged as an injectable or nasal spray drug, and is used by paramedics and first responders. The National Institute of Drug Abuse states that naloxone “can very quickly restore normal respiration to a person whose breathing has slowed or stopped as a result of overdosing with heroin or prescription opioid pain medications.”
“I’m also working to get 33 different agencies in Lincoln County equipped with naloxone, mainly the Fire department, EMS, schools and libraries,” Ritter said.
Ritter said she had spoken with High Country Behavioral Health executive director Kipp Dana about a possible grant to enhance opioid addiction recovery programs at the county’s local facilities.
In 2016, there were 50 opioid-related overdose deaths in Wyoming — a rate of 8.7 deaths per 100,000 persons —compared to the national rate of 13.3 deaths per 100,000.
Ritter also updated the commissioners on the progress of Lincoln County Prevention’s other programs.
Lincoln County Prevention is conducting a series of online and print education campaigns addressing vaping, underage drinking, adult over-consumption, and suicide prevention among middle-aged men. The online campaigns direct social media users to resources in the county, such as addiction recovery and counseling.
“We’ve been very successful in our media campaigns,” Ritter told the commissioners. “We’ve seen lots of impressions and engagements.”
Commissioner Robert King looked at the number of social media clicks the campaigns had received, and said it could be viewed as “disheartening” that so many people in the county are in need of these resources.
“I think we have to look at it as a good thing that people are seeking to get the help they need, whether it’s for them or people they care about,” Ritter said. “Media campaigns like these can help reduce the stigma around issues like men’s mental health.”
Ritter also said that Prevention had been successful in implementing programs in local schools to help students quit tobacco products using the Wyoming Quit Tobacco program. She said other school districts in the state were interested in discussing how they could mimic it in their own school districts.
The next Lincoln County Commission meeting is Tuesday, April 23, in Afton.