Fighting the Opioid Crisis at the County Level

In Carbon County, Utah, officials are coming together in a combined effort to combat the opioid crisis. According to the Associated Press, Karen Dolan, CEO of Four Corners Behavioral Health and others have taken a proactive approach. They started the CARE Coalition, which stands for Carbon Addiction Reduction and Elimination, a diverse group of community leaders including law enforcement, human services agencies, clergy, prosecutors, health care providers and volunteers.

People in the community felt separate entities were working towards the same goal. If they all work together they couldn’t they get the job done faster? One avenue in this plan is Four Corners Behavioral Health, a nonprofit service provider for people with mental illnesses, substance-use disorders and often co-occurring conditions. This organization reaches out to schoolchildren, jail inmates and community members to enhance existing prevention, education, treatment and support efforts. One part of their activity is at the county jail. There, law enforcement teams work with Four Corners Behavioral Health staff to assess those arrested on drug-related charges. The goal is to transition low-risk offenders to treatment and supervision in the community as soon as possible so they aren’t hanging out with higher-risk offenders in the corrections facility.

The CARE Coalition offers additional support to those incarcerated.This includes picking up people from the jail upon release to help place those recovering from an addiction into sober living communities supported by faith organizations out of state.

Another player is the state’s county commissioner. His responsibilities include mental health services and public health. He is a full partner to the coalition. The Commissioner and his fellow commissioners are trying to create new jobs. Because of the downturn in the coal industry and the shut down of the coal-fired Carbon power plant, 70 high-paying jobs were lost.

Their goal is to develop new industry or opportunities in Carbon County so people can earn a living wage at home. The focus is on stackable credentials, whereby people no longer have to go through school and get a bachelor’s degree to begin working. The idea is to give those still in high school a certificate so that they can work and still pursue further education. They can always be learning and working at the same time.

“Cooperation is the thorough conviction that nobody can get there unless everybody gets there.” – Virginia Burden

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