Oxnard, CA – On September 1st, The Ventura County Behavioral Health Department (VCBH) will launch a public-facing data dashboard that provides the community with important statistics around opioid-involved drug use. The public can access this user-friendly dashboard by visiting www.venturacountyresponds.org.
Dr. Loretta Denering, Chief for the County’s Substance Use Services Division said the new dashboard will be a valuable resource to county residents. “Local trends and resources, including addiction treatment locations, prescription drug drop-off locations, and overdose prevention strategies are featured”. She also noted, “until now, there has never been a one-stop site”.
As a response to the Opioid crisis, VCBH has prioritized increased access to care for opioid users. In October of 2018, VCBH was awarded a federal grant, that in collaboration with multiple agencies, including Public Health, Emergency Medical Services, Ambulatory Care, Sheriff’s Office and the Medical Examiner’s Office, has allowed for more innovative ways to address the crisis. One of the grant deliverables was to create this dashboard for the community, in addition to tracking the nature and extent of the crisis locally, as well as providing more services to the public, especially those with an opioid use disorder.
Other efforts by VCBH and its partners include:
• Creating a Rx Drug and Heroin Workgroup in 2012 to respond to drug diversion and so-called ‘Doctor Shopping,’ where opioid-involved drug users sought out doctors willing to provide strong painkillers that patients would use or sell illegally on the street.
• Equipping and training every local law enforcement agency to use the overdose reversal drug naloxone. Multiple agencies report successful overdose reversals within the last year.
• Social media and messaging campaigns to encourage family members and loved ones to learn how to respond to an accidental overdose, and available treatment services across the county.
Per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more Americans now die from drug overdose than any other kind of accidental death – more than traffic accidents and gun violence combined. In Ventura County, more than 100 accidental deaths each year are attributed to drug overdose, with the majority involving opioids.
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increased number of behavioral health conditions reported. On August 14, the CDC published findings that included approximately one in 10 persons (13.3%) reporting increased substance use to cope with stress or emotions.
As a result, VCBH has amplified overdose prevention education and rescue training this year, made the life-saving drug nasal naloxone available during the pandemic, and recorded 123 overdose reversals since March 2020. Likewise, VCBH Substance Use Treatment Services (SUTS) has continued to provide treatment via telehealth and telephone to clients. Services include assessments, treatment planning, individual counseling, group counseling, Medication Assisted Treatment services (MAT), and family therapy. SUTS has also worked in collaboration with county prevention services to serve as a distribution site for naloxone (OD kits), and has been successful in providing community members with kits as needed.
“Getting help for addiction starts with taking fifteen minutes to call the Access Line, or visiting our dashboard” said Dr. Sevet Johnson, the Department Director. “We want people to know how to respond to an overdose, and additionally get to the help they need.”
To reach the Access Line, call: 1-844-385-9200.
To visit the dashboard: www.venturacountyresponds.org
The Access Line is open and staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so a staff member will quickly assess the needs of the caller and set an appointment for them to start receiving services.
In addition to Overdose Prevention Training and nasal naloxone, VCBH provides outpatient services like counseling, residential treatment, withdrawal management (Detox), medication-assisted treatment (MAT), and recovery services for aftercare. There are also special services for parenting and pregnant women, youth, and members of the public who are justice-involved.
Calling 1-844-385-9200 leads to a free and confidential assessment. Residents can visit www.VCBH.org for more information about services, or find out more about Overdose Prevention view this informational video https://vimeo.com/331069498.