Changes to Wyoming’s Prescription Drug and Opioid Misuse Efforts
September 23, 2021
As federal grant funding ends, state efforts to prevent prescription drug and opioid-related overdoses and deaths are evolving but continuing, according to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH).
The WDH Substance Abuse Prevention Program (SAPP) first received the Grant to Prevent Prescription Drug / Opioid Overdose-Related Deaths from the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in 2016. The grant ended on August 31; Wyoming was not selected to receive another round of funding.
Rachel Nuss, head of SAPP at WDH, said a lot has been accomplished over the past five years with grant funding to help prevent prescription / opioid overdoses and deaths:
- Over 8,000 doses of NARCAN®, a temporary antidote to opioid overdoses, have been distributed to law enforcement agencies, emergency medical services, pharmacies, schools, the University of Wyoming and other organizations.
- Thousands of drug deactivation bags and hundreds of lockable pill bottles and boxes have been purchased and distributed statewide. These items help prevent prescription drugs from being used by someone without a prescription.
- Over 950 Wyoming residents have received online training on administering NARCAN® through SAPP to date. This option remains available and can be viewed online at https://www.getnaloxonenow.org/#gettraining. Training is free for people who enter a Wyoming address on the site.
“We understand the importance of these services,” Nuss said. “While this funding source is no longer available, work is still underway to help prevent prescription drug / opioid overdose and abuse in Wyoming.”
Official WDH records show that annual deaths attributed to overdoses in Wyoming have increased between some years and decreased at other times. In 2020, 89 overdose deaths were recorded among residents of Wyoming compared to 81 in 2019, 65 in 2018, 60 in 2017, 94 in 2016, 95 in 2015, 107 in 2014, 96 in 2013, 99 in 2012 and 81 in 2011.
Nuss said SAPP continues to fund county prevention specialists who work on a variety of substance abuse prevention services in 22 of 23 counties in Wyoming. Prevention services include creating and updating policies, reducing access to prescription drugs through drug withdrawal events, and promoting prescription drug drop-off boxes, storage methods and safe disposal, in addition to providing educational resources as needed.
Drug Assisted Treatment (MAT) is also available throughout Wyoming and is a proven treatment for opioid use disorders in combination with behavioral counseling and therapy. The WDH Behavioral Health Division contracts for MAT and other opioid use disorder treatment services with regional drug treatment providers in the community. The services of community drug treatment providers are available regardless of a person’s ability to pay. MAT and other opioid use disorder treatment services may also be available from other certified local providers. To find a community-based substance abuse treatment provider or certified provider, visit https://health.wyo.gov/behavioralhealth/mhsa/treatment.
The Overdose Response Strategy Office (ORS), part of the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, is funded by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy through areas of high intensity drug trafficking. This office is intended to include a drug intelligence officer and a public health analyst. The RHA will work with public health to identify trends and resources that can help reduce overdoses. For more information on the services available through the ORS, please contact Casey Patterson at [email protected].
If future funding and program opportunities become available, they will be announced to stakeholders and the public if they become available.