Substance Abuse

Wyoming Department of Health

The Wyoming Department of Health is asking members of the public to share their thoughts about community-based mental health and substance use disorder services. 

Wyoming Medical Center

A study of seven rural states by the Bipartisan Policy Center found that there are challenges to health care delivery. One of the states it studied was Wyoming which has fewer doctors, higher workplace deaths and problems with substance abuse. Heidi Schultz is the Rural Healthcare Program Officer with the Helmsley Trust, which has partnered with the Bipartisan Policy Center. She tells Bob Beck that Wyoming only has 65 primary care physicians per 100,000 people, much lower than the national average. 

Albany Community Health Clinic

Healthcare providers in Laramie say they’re seeing an increase in addiction. In response, the Albany Community Health Clinic -- which serves patients regardless of their ability to pay -- is adding mental health and substance abuse services to the comprehensive primary-care it offers. With a grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, the clinic is now able to hire additional mental health providers.

 

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Albany County Sheriff Dave O’Malley said in his first 30 years in law enforcement he encountered heroin only twice, but now illicit drugs -- including meth and cocaine -- are something his department deals with all the time.

 

For those individuals struggling with addiction who end up in the Albany County Detention Center, the immediate shift to sobriety can bring on intense physical and emotional stress, according to O’Malley. That’s why he wants to start offering inmates acupuncture to relieve the side effects of withdrawal.

Recover Wyoming

Earlier this month, authors in a new anthology on drug and alcohol recovery in Wyoming presented their work in Cheyenne.         

Laura Griffith is the founder of Recover Wyoming in Cheyenne and a former Wyoming Department of Health Treatment Manager. In the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Division, Griffith took part in a special training called the Emerging Leaders of Recovery. 

Liam Niemeyer

Due to Wyoming’s economic downturn, a number of state agencies have been required to cut their budgets to make up for a revenue shortfall that could reach $300 million. Among the cuts is $1 million that the Wyoming Department of Corrections uses for substance abuse treatment. 

At the same time, the Wyoming Department of Health is cutting funding for local substance abuse treatment. Some worry the cuts could harm those in and out of the prison system.

The Northern Arapahoe Tribe and Wind River Casino have donated ten thousand dollars for the Center of Hope in Riverton.

The Center of Hope offers observation, a detox program, and up to 3 months of transitional living to people with substance abuse problems. Clients experience things like morning meditations, group therapy, and skills for coping with loss.

Center of Hope representative Shelley Mbonu says the money donated by the tribe and casino will go toward things like transporting people to treatment programs or getting assessments.

Wikimedia Commons

Wyoming has long had issues with substance abuse. Alcoholism has always been a problem here, and in the 1990s and early 2000s methamphetamine took hold across the state. But one drug you didn’t hear much about was heroin. That is changing. Easy access to prescription pain pills in recent years has helped make heroin a small but growing problem in Wyoming.

House Begins Debate On Sobriety Bill

Feb 28, 2014
Bob Beck

The Wyoming House is considering a bill that would set up a program to test those who have been arrested for substance abuse misdemeanors at all hours of the day. 

House Judiciary Chairman Keith Gingery says 24/7 sobriety programs like this are currently working in some select Wyoming counties and in other states.  The bill funds a program where the substance abuser is tested regularly, sometimes twice a day, for drug or alcohol use.  Gingery says not only will the legislation help people, it could reduce crime. 

The 24/7 Sobriety Program Bill has passed general file in the Wyoming Senate.

The bill would create the option for people who have been arrested for substance abuse misdemeanors to be tested regularly for drug or alcohol use instead of staying in jail.   If the offender fails to complete or pass a test, he or she would be arrested and appear in front of a judge. 

The program would mainly be funded by fees paid up-front by the offenders themselves. 

The Wyoming state legislature may consider a bill that would divert funds from the alcohol tax to programs that provide treatment for substance abuse.

It’s estimated that alcohol abuse costs the state 843 million dollars a year.

Casper representative Bunky Loucks is sponsoring the bill. He says the bill would ta

ke 15 percent of the funds raised from alcohol tax, or roughly two million dollars and give it to the Wyoming Department of Health to help combat substance abuse.

As it addressed issues concerning substance abuse, one thing the state never had were Wyoming specific numbers on the financial impact of substance abuse.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports that a recent study has found that the cost of alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse is staggering.

BOB BECK:  This is the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center or WYSAC  today people in the state are being asked about their tobacco use.

“And how old were you when you first smoked at least one cigarette every day for 30 days in a row?  16? All right…”

The tenth annual Methamphetamine and Substance Abuse Conference will be held in Casper at the end of April.

  Governor Matt Mead will be the special guest speaker. The conference brings stakeholders from across the state together with national speakers to discuss the impacts of methamphetamines on communities.

  Casper Crime Prevention Officer Jadee Kroeger, says the annual event can benefit a number of community services.

The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is honoring a youth program on the Wind River Reservation for its efforts to prevent substance abuse and the spread of HIV.

This is the first time a Native American group has received a Voices of Prevention award. The Wind River Tribal Youth Program offers a range of health and social programs to kids from the Northern Arapaho Tribe. 

Executive Director Donna Trosper says substance abuse is a big problem among young people in the area.