Local addiction recovery organizations partner to offer NARCAN, training to community members

Originally published in The Journal

MARTINSBURG — Emphasizing the importance of utilizing community collaborations, the Mountaineer Recovery Center and the Berkeley County Community Outreach for Resources and Education (CORE) team are offering free NARCAN and training today in hopes of better arming those battling addiction and their loved ones against overdose deaths.

According to Kevin Knowles, business development chief with Mountaineer Recovery Center, said the center has been focused on creating and utilizing connections with any number of recovery-oriented organizations in the community as it continues to expand its own recovery offerings.

“Our community collaborations have been crucial, as we have tried to address the opioid and substance use disorder epidemic… since Day 1,” Knowles said. “The training of NARCAN started off slowly, because people were afraid of it, but now, it is accepted and the norm. There is no way someone can recover if they’re not alive, so community collaborations, like this with CORE, are so important in making sure we reach as many people as possible. That road to recovery could start with that shot of NARCAN, so we want to make sure everyone knows we are here to help.”

Caroline Wilson, case manager and licensed social worker for the Berkeley County CORE team, said the decision to host a NARCAN event on the Mountaineer Recovery Center’s property in collaboration with the treatment center was an easy one, as the groups has continued to ramp up its efforts to educate and destigmatize substance use in the rural areas of Berkeley County.

The Berkeley and Jefferson CORE teams operate under the umbrella of the Community Overdose Response Plan State demonstration pilot project announced last year. It aims to address opioid use through new rural outreach programs, stigma reduction and building on programs that are already available in the area.

Wilson said today’s event will be the fourth of its kind hosted by the CORE team, stating that over the last three held, over 150 doses of NARCAN had been given out to community members.

Wilson explained as part of the NARCAN event, each person who receives NARCAN will be trained in how to recognize an overdose, how to use NARCAN safely and what to do after it has been administered.

Wilson said the group would also pass out information and additional resources aimed at meeting the needs of both those struggling with substance use disorder themselves, as well as those friends and family members.

“We know that Mountaineer prescribes NARCAN to its patients, but we also want to make sure the friends or family members of those people with substance use disorder have NARCAN and know how to use it,” Wilson said.

According to Wilson, the NARCAN event will take place at the Mountaineer Recovery Center property in Kearneysville from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. today.

Wilson said the distribution table would be set up outside of the center at 3094 Charles Town Road.

As previously reported, CORE, originally approved by West Virginia Legislature in March 2018, aims to implement new approaches to harm reduction and overdoses in West Virginia, as well as build on those programs already in place throughout the state.

According to Emma Morton-Eggleston, dean of WVU Health Sciences and program leader, the Legislature voted to provide funds to the Department of Health and Human Resources and the Office of Drug Control Policy, in collaboration with the governor and secretary of DHHR, to fund pilots in two counties in the southern and northern part of the state, aiming to answer the questions, “Can you come up with approaches to try and decrease opioid overdoses, and Can you do it in a way that might teach things that can be rolled out in other parts of the state?”

The pilot program aims to follow efforts in Wyoming County, the chosen participating county in the southern part of the state working closely with Marshall University. Berkeley and Jefferson are the designated counties in what the program considers the northern part of the state.

Berkeley and Jefferson counties were chosen, because both counties are in the top 10 counties in the state for overdose deaths. Both counties are working in conjunction with West Virginia University.