Fayette County Health Department partners with Opioid Response Network to combat substance use epidemic

According to the CDC, West Virginia has the nation’s deadliest drug problem.

So the Fayette County Health Department partnered with the Opioid Response Network for SUD Shared Solutions… to address stigma, HIV care and drug use in hard-to-reach populations, and the colliding of mental health and substance misuse.

“Really important for the work to be increased here to deal with that and to basically humanize it,” said Opioid Response Network Region 3 regional coordinator Debbie Doherty. “There’s a lot of stigma… internal stigma, external stigma and we really need to work on that. That needs to start really first so people will want to get into treatment.”

Fayette County Health Department peer recovery support specialist Paula McCutcheon says when one is out there you don’t feel like you have anybody. So you can’t expect them to move forward and find recovery.

“And sustain recovery without having that support system and that connection and having people to reach out to and having those resources that they need,” said McCutcheon.

Treatment can be transformative when someone is ready and has the help to show them the way.

“A lot of times when they have completed treatment they are ready to give back to the community and so that’s what we’re seeing here today, a lot of those folks who work in this field,” said FCHD executive director Teri Harlan.

McCutcheon says this is what it’s all about and she’s proud to be part of the recovery community.

“And give back to a community where I caused the most chaos,” she said.

Harlan gets emotional when speaking about their strong connection with the community and the people they help.

“Substance use disorder continues to be one of the biggest public health crises that we are facing and so it’s huge for us,” said the executive director.

According to McCutcheon, it’s a tough road and not as simple as just not using (drugs). They had a great roster of speakers and topics the community is affected by and provided the tools.

“We have all these barriers and I feel like all the people here today are the ones helping people overcome those barriers so they can sustain recovery,” the peer recovery support specialist said. “We can’t save anybody but we can show ’em a new way and we can show ’em that it can be done.”

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