The Grant County Health Department is planning to tackle the local drug crisis in 2020 by connecting the existing nonprofits in the county. “As we looked over the entire nation over the last few years, there’s a tidal wave over big cities and little cities impacting with the drug crisis,” said Health Officer William David Moore, MD.“The No. 1 industry in Grant County is nonprofits, helping people who need help,” Moore said. “They don’t talk to one another; they don’t connect … and the health department (can) play a role in bringing these together.” Several church groups, Family Service Society, Cornerstone, the Probation Department and many other nonprofits in Grant County are addressing the drug crisis separately but rarely bring their resources together to help those in need, Moore said. Amber Turner, a public health nurse in the nursing division, discussed the department’s pending decision to introduce harm reduction kits for heroin users in 2020.
According to Turner, a harm reduction kit includes Band-Aids, sterile solution, a cooker and a pot. The harm reduction kits would be paid for by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and not be of any cost to the county. The kits, however, do not come with a syringe. The department has discussed pursuing a syringe exchange program but anticipates being met with resistance. “We will have some people who will think that we are condoning their behavior, but we look at it from a public health standpoint,” Turner said. “We would be helping reduce the risk of spreading HIV, Hepatitis C that’s on the rise across the whole United States.”
“People who are addicted and are going to use are going to use,” Moore said. “When they get infected because they use a dirty needle or they share a needle, then they expose their partners to that from sexual contact.”
Hope House Marion, a recovery program, plans to work with naltrexone and coordinate with the local methadone clinic, Moore said.
The health department also plans to connect local programs to fill the gap between when a recovering addict gets released from jail and when they begin a rehabilitation program. “It’s a lifestyle that we have to address,” Moore said. “Once a person is addicted, they’re always addicted.”