QRT working to tackle drug problem in Mon County

MORGANTOWN – In the ongoing effort to combat the opioid epidemic, the Monongalia County Health Department is hoping to reach individuals dealing with substance abuse disorder through its new county-wide Quick Response Team.

The team, comprised of individuals representing the Monongalia County Health Department, first responders, law enforcement and peer recovery coaches, has been meeting since weekly since May to analyze data and evaluate response to the opioid crisis in Monongalia County.

“Rehabilitation is the number service,” explained QRT Coordinator Brittany Irick on WAJR’s Talk of the Town. “But it can be any type of resources they might need.”

The QRT was established through a $230,000 grant from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Office of Maternal Child and Family Health.

According to Irick, MECCA 911 dispatches emergency medical services to treat an average of 46 non-fatal overdoses each month in Monongalia County. Currently, Monongalia County ranks fifth in the state in opioid deaths.

The QRT examines usage patterns, looks for ways to connect people with services and provide peer recovery coaches. Irick believes those coaches are critical to the QRT reaching people in the most need of addiction treatment.

“They have suffered substance abuse disorder in the past and are now in recovery,” said Irick. “They are important to our QRT because they have this lived experience and are able to establish relationships with those who are not in recovery and can build trust with those individuals.

While there are indications that agencies are getting a grip on the opioid epidemic, a new drug of choice is popping up more often.

“It does look like we’re moving towards methamphetamines. We don’t have a lot of numbers on that right now but it looks like, based on reports from peer recovery coaches and other people, that’s what they’re seeing right now.”

Irick says the grant that established the QRT is set to run out at the end of November but is hopeful there will be funds available to continue the program.