The Hancock County Opioid and Addictions Task Force began in 2010 by a group of concerned community members who wanted to address the growing community health concerns related to opiate use and addiction. Beginning with a community medication collection aimed at reducing the amount if opiate and other medications accessible for misuse, the Task Force has grown to include over seventy community stakeholders representing over thirty community organizations.

In 2018, the Task Force took a bold and dramatic step to shift its focus beyond individuals struggling with an addiction. Below is the description of this shift and the importance it has to improve community health.

Implications

Two very distinct themes emerged from the Hancock County Opiate Task Force Strategic Planning Meeting:

  1. Increasing the scope of interventions and practices to serve the families (e.g. spouse/partner, children, parents, relatives) of people affected by substance use disorder; and,
  2. Developing mechanisms to bring services topeople affected by substance use disorder.

Increasing the scope of interventions and practices to serve families.

Substance use disorder may begin in isolation, but the consequences of addiction are often felt by those who care for the individual struggling with the disease. More importantly, children of people with a substance use disorder are at higher risk of developing a substance use disorder later in life, if not properly provided with adequate education and prevention to understand this risk.

Support (intervention, treatment, relapse prevention) is not only needed to help guide an individual to successful recovery, but also imperative for families to regain health, encourage people seeking recovery, and understand the risk of addiction. Support of this nature has a wide range of interventions and practices (e.g. peer support, social-emotional support for children, education and prevention, mental wellness). Therefore, it is right for the Hancock County Opiate Task Force to lean on its stakeholders and invested partners to determine the most effective and most innovative means to support healthy families and communities impacted by substance use disorder.

Developing mechanisms to bring services to people affected by substance use disorder.

Since the inception of the Hancock County Opiate Task Force in 2010, stakeholders and invested partners have worked to assess, develop, implement, and evaluate a continuum of interventions and practices that serve people with a substance use disorder. More specifically, these services have been an endpoint – people with a substance use disorder must actively seek these services to begin their journey to recovery.

However, addiction science has taught us that we must also create effective, innovative, and appropriate ways to deliver services to those most resistant to seeking recovery. “This population, while at highest risk, is least likely to seek help and will need extraordinary outreach.” (Flaherty, How to Eat an Elephant, 2019). The implication of this evidence suggests to the Hancock County Opiate Task Force that it must expand the current service delivery structure and begin developing and implementing strategies to reach the most vulnerable who have been affected by substance use disorder in our community. Some strategies have already been or are being developed (e.g. Quick Response Team, harm reduction) but even more innovative mechanisms to take services out into the field are necessary. Therefore, it is right for the Hancock County Opiate Task Force to lean on its stakeholders and invested partners to determine the most effective and most innovative means to bring services to people affected by substance use disorder.

Function and Structure of the Hancock County Opiate Task Force.

The existing structure of the Hancock County Opiate Task Force has served well in appropriately and effectively addressing the opioid crisis. However, through the recent Strategic Planning process and emergence of the two themes (described above), the following new function and structure of the Hancock County Opiate Task Force is proposed:

 

To learn more or to join our efforts, contact us at 419-424-1985.