Community Collaboration Creates Real Change
Opioid Abuse Prevention Action in Spartanburg County
Sam Sloan, MPH
Community collaboration is an integral part of addressing any public health challenge. With substance use prevention, Impact Spartanburg relies on the support and expertise of other organizations, agencies, and coalitions serving the community. A national issue of focus is the opioid epidemic. The nature of the opioid epidemic led to the formation of several opioid related work groups and community supports in partnership with the Behavioral Health Task Force.
The Behavioral Health Task Force (BHTF) came about through the formation of The Road to Better Health Coalition. The coalition was formed in 2008 after a community health assessment performed by the Spartanburg Community Indicators Project, identified significant health needs in our community. The report revealed rates in teen pregnancy, access to care, obesity and other health-related issues that were quite unnerving. It also confirmed that our community faces significant health disparities related to race, income and education. The coalition identified the following priorities: health behaviors, access to care, social/economic factors, and the physical environment.
Peer Support Living Room
Thus, the BHTF was created. The task force is composed of many organizations in the community including Spartanburg Regional Health System, Department of Mental Health, Mental Health America, The Forrester Center, and NAMI Spartanburg, among others. The BHTF has tackled many needs in the community. A recent project facilitated by the task force is the Peer Support Living Room. The Peer Support Living Room is a day center for individuals with behavioral health issues to seek support, meet case managers and prevent crises.
The Communications Committee specializes in communicating the severity of the opioid abuse issue to the community. Some projects of the task force include creating a greater social media presence, disseminating educational event information, and creating informational materials about the prescription medication disposal locations in the county. Materials regarding prescription medication safety tips for use during open houses for homeowners have been created and will be distributed by local realtors.
Peer Support Committee
The Peer Support Committee is dedicated to improving the peer support model’s presence in Spartanburg County. Peer support models are used not only for substance abuse treatment, but for various behavioral health issues. The goal of peer support is to bring together individuals in recovery with individuals who need treatment but may experience barriers to accessing treatment. Individuals in recovery will receive training in supportive tactics and share their own experiences with coping mechanisms and staying healthy. Peer support is important in providing just that. Individuals without support are much less likely to experience recovery than those who have a strong support system. A Peer Support Specialist is housed at the Spartanburg Detention Center to help the inmates get themselves back on a healthy path.
College and Universities Committee
The College and Universities Committee is a group composed of representatives from all higher education entities in Spartanburg County convened to target the misuse of substances on college campuses. The representatives discussed current policies employed and educational materials and requirements used. Ideas, such as drug and alcohol educational programming, were shared across campuses. Future meetings will include discussion the outcomes of shared ideas and progressive moves each campus can work into their current practices.
Community effort will play a very important role in addressing the opioid epidemic. As members of the community, we ask that you protect yourself, your family and your neighbors by keeping each other safe. Safely store your medications so they may not be accessed by anyone but you and remove leftover medications from your home. You can safely dispose of medication in a prescription medication drop box. Find a convenient location in Spartanburg County with the following map.