COXSACKIE — The Greene County Sheriff’s Office’s new Impacted Citizen’s Program is having a big impact so far, Greene County Sheriff Pete Kusminsky said.

The program, which was launched in June, connects residents that have recently experienced a drug overdose with support resources. About 85% of residents encountered have opted to enroll in a treatment program or other support service, Kusminsky said.

“Since the inception of the program, which is approximately six weeks in operation after four weeks of planning, the team has responded to 15 overdoses which fit the criteria,” Kusminsky said. “Contact was able to be established with 12 of those individuals with nine currently signed in for some type of service.”

The sheriff’s office responds within 24 to 72 hours after the overdose and both the individual who experienced the overdose and their family members are offered assistance through various programs to help them with their addiction, he said.

The program also includes training for law enforcement and first responders. The Impacted Citizen’s Program was created in collaboration with several other community organizations including the Greene County Mobile Crisis Assessment Team, the Mental Health Association of Columbia-Greene Counties and the Columbia-Greene Addiction Coalition.

Overdoses in the Twin Counties are still on the rise, Greener Pathways Program Director Carl Quinn said. Greener Pathways is the Mobile Outreach Program for Twin County Recovery Services.

Columbia County had six overdoses in June, one of which was fatal and eight in July, one of which was fatal.

In Greene County, there were nine non-fatal overdoses in June and six overdoses in July, one of which was fatal.

“While Greene County’s numbers are less in July than in June, Greene County officials are doing further investigation on each suspected overdose before logging it to the overdose tracking system,” Quinn said. “So while the number is lower at this time, it may be due to a lag in reporting time frames and not actually a lower number of overdoses. We’re cautiously optimistic that number might be an improvement when investigations are complete.”

Twin County residents who need Narcan can text NARCANKIT to 21000 to receive a kit.

The texting option is not an emergency service and should not be used in place of 911 if an overdose occurs, Quinn said.

“It’s just to get Narcan in the community,” he said. “If someone is in active use and wants to have it with them, or a family member or loved one of someone actively using wants it.”

In November, Greene and Columbia counties accepted funding to participate in a national opioid study. Both counties are among 15 in the state to receive national funding to reduce opioid deaths.

The goal of the study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is to reduce opioid-related deaths by 40% over three years. The $86 million grant was awarded to Columbia University’s School of Social Work, which will assist the counties with reducing opioid use, increase medication-based treatment, increase treatment retention beyond six months, provide recovery services and expand the distribution of naloxone, according to a release from NIH.

Sixty-seven communities in four states are participating in the study.

The other states, part of the overall $350 million study with the National Institutes of Health, are Kentucky, Massachusetts and Ohio, Greene County Director of Community Services Jason Fredenberg said.

The Twin Counties also entered a two-year pilot program for the Columbia-Greene Addiction Coalition, which is in its second year. Each county contributes $39,000 each year to improve recovery services in the region. The program is also funded by the Healthcare Consortium and was developed with the help of Twin County Recovery Services.

For help, contact Greener Pathways, 518-291-4500 or 518-822-7437; Columbia County Pathways To Recovery, 877-467-3365; Project Safe Point 1-866-930-4999; or Twin County Recovery Services, 518-828-9300 or 518-943-2036.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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