COUNTY—“Primary substance trends remained consistent with the 16/17 fiscal year,” reported Jeffrey Zerechak, Director of the Wayne County Drug & Alcohol Commission (DAC) at the Commissioners meeting Thursday Morning.

The DAC Director presented the Executive Summary of the agency's Annual Report, covering fiscal year 2017-2018 (FY 17/18).

According to the summary, 40 percent of the total clients served in FY 17/18 reported heroin/opiates as their primary substance as compared to 41 percent in FY 16/17.

“In order, we have heroin, alcohol and marijuana as the three primary substances that people come to our office for help with,” said Zerechak, noting that for the last several years opiate abuse has surpassed and remains above alcohol abuse as the number one issue reported.

In FY 17/18, the DAC's four full-time case managers completed 646 screenings and 529 comprehensive assessments for clients seeking assistance. This includes inmates at the Wayne County Correctional Facility.

The report notes the Case Management Unit referred 118 clients to inpatient treatments with heroin and opiate use accounting for 61 percent of those admissions, the largest percentage of any other substance.

Additionally, there were 343 clients referred to outpatient treatment and monitored every 60 days to assess the appropriateness of their care.

While opioid abuse continues to dominate the county's recovery efforts, Zerechak noted a decline in Court Reporting Network (CRN) evaluations “would seem to indicate a decrease in DUI offenses committed in Wayne County.”

FY 17/18 saw 111 CRN referrals completed, 22 fewer than the year before.

Additionally, there were 29 adults who completed the Alcohol Highway Safety Class (AHSC) and 60 who finished both that and an intervention class.

Zerechak also reported there were four individuals under 21 who completed the underage class in FY 17/18, which is two more than the year before.

In FY 17/18, DAC employed a full-time Certified Recovery Specialist (CRS), “a professional that has years of lived recovery experience who works closely with people who are new to recovery to increase their likelihood of success,” states the report summary.

There were 45 referrals and 31 admissions to this program in FY 17/18.

Medication Assisted Treatment

DCA in partnership with Pennsylvania Treatment and Healing (PATH) utilize the two-fold Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) program, combining medication with cognitive-behavioral therapies and community support to aid those recovering from opioid use disorders.

The MAT program makes use of Suboxone, a partial opiate agonist and Vivitrol, an opiate antagonist.

Zerechak explained a partial opiate agonist has “an opiate and a blocker in it,” while an opiate antagonist has only a blocker and no opiate substance.

“Our philosophy with our program is that medication is a tool in the toolbox,” Zerechak explained. “It's not meant to replace any kind of treatment, therapy or true recovery program. It's sole purpose is craving management.”

Medical aspects of the MAT program are overseen by Dr. Gary Good of the Upper Delaware Valley Infectious Disease Practice of Monticello, New York.

The MAT program had 54 referrals and 24 new admissions in FY 17/18.

Due to the long-term and highly individualized nature of the MAT program, most participants are in it for over a year.

About the DAC

The DAC serves as the Single County Authority (SCA) for Wayne County, providing all drug and alcohol related services for its residents.

Its mission is to forestall substance use disorders where possible and intervene with services when appropriate.

Acting as the primary point of entry into the D&A system for Wayne County, DAC offers D&A Prevention Services, Screenings, Assessments, Coordination of Services, MAT Case Coordination, Recovery Support Services and DUI Offender Services.

Through contracts with private entities, DAC also provides outpatient, intensive outpatient, partial hospitalization, medically monitored detox, medically managed detox, medically monitored inpatient, medically managed inpatient and halfway-house services.

During FY 17/18, DAC expanded its service capacity and client choice through a contract with Little Creek Outpatient services.

DAC also negotiated previously unavailable housing services for males in early recover through Shane's House.

Through a grant from PA STOP, DAC will be able to extend the SCA outreach efforts and raise public awareness in the county via Facebook, radio, TV and mail.

DAC has nine full-time employees, two part-time employees and a community advisory board of “dedicated community members with a strong interest in D&A programming,” according to the executive summary.

Zerechak noted there are currently vacancies on the community advisory board. Those interested in joining the board or looking for more information about the DAC can call 570-253-6022.

Acting as the hotline for the warm handoff program, this number is now available 24/7 for those in need of emergency assistance for substance use disorder.

Information is also available online at www.waynecountypa.gov.

A full copy of the Annual Report is available for public review at the DAC office, 318 Tenth Street, Honesdale.