The opioid epidemic has grabbed headlines. Not a day goes by that we don’t see reference to this deadly wave that has crashed over our country affecting people from every region, age, and socioeconomic group; leaving in its wake devastated families and friends.
In 2019 alone, opioid overdoses claimed at least 49,860 lives in America. The abuse of and addiction to opioids such as heroin, fentanyl, morphine, and prescription pain relievers is a serious health problem in the county. From 2018-2019 death rates involving synthetic opioids increased 67.9% in the West according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 72.9% of opioid-involved overdose deaths involve synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Fentanyl is a powerful opioid, 80-100 times more powerful than morphine. Fentanyl is often mixed with other substances or sold illicitly as a power or as fake pills.
The California Healthcare Foundation (CHCF) has taken a proactive role by recruiting and supporting counties to form coalitions and put the boots on the ground to fight the epidemic one community at a time.
The Coalition was developed with support from Behavioral Health leadership and the Board of Supervisors. The Coalition has implemented initiatives to support the community in their fight against drug abuse, addiction and overdose. Since then, CHCF has partnered with the Public Health Institute (PHI) Center for Health Leadership & Practice to place AmeriCorps VISTA members in the opioid safety coalitions.