The County formed the SLO Opioid Safety Coalition in January 2016 to address the local epidemic of opioid (painkiller medication and heroin) misuse with grant funding from the California Health Care Foundation.

In 2015, 36 San Luis Obispo County residents died due to opioid misuse (opioids are painkillers such as oxycodone, codeine, and morphine). Two years prior, in 2013, County Public Health reported that were 774 opioid prescriptions for every 1,000 SLO residents.

To address these issues, the coalition accomplished a lot in 2016, including:

  • The first-ever Call-to-Action Event, in partnership with Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center, and two additional large public meetings to facilitate a community-wide discussion on the local epidemic and how to make a positive impact/change
  • Creating five robust Action Teams, representing community members and professionals from a wide array of sectors. Each team focuses on one important area:
    1. Safe Prescribing & Health Care
    2. Data & Outcome Monitoring
    3. Community Prevention & First Responders
    4. Medication Assisted Treatment
    5. Naloxone: Overdose Antidote
  • Holding 26 Action Team meetings to focus on goal development, goal accomplishment, and projects.  Each team meets regularly to review their strategic and measurable goals.
  • Publishing a public online data dashboard for local opioid-related epidemic information.  A data scorecard is in final stages of development.
  • Provided at least 15 presentations/trainings focusing on the life saving drug Naloxone, which can be used to reverse an opioid overdose.
  • Organized and hosted a well-attended “Train the Trainer” event in September 2016 to provide information to local pharmacists about the dispensing of Naloxone directly to customers upon request.
  • Gave five presentations to medical professionals and community partner staff regarding Medication Assisted Treatment.
  • Organizing, promoting and hosting a summit in October 2016 to help people dispose of unwanted, unused, and expired prescription and over-the-counter medications.

The coalition coordinated with a variety of stakeholder groups and organizations, including but not limited to the County Health Agency (specifically Drug & Alcohol Services, Emergency Medical Services, and Epidemiology), the County Sheriff’s Department, various representatives from Cal Poly departments, Integrated Waste Management Authority, CenCal Health, Aegis Treatment Centers, LLC., Kayla Peach Memorial Foundation, physicians from the four area Emergency Departments, and pharmacists.

The SLO Opioid Safety Coalition will continue its work through the end of the grant period (June 30, 2017) and will determine ways the Coalition can continue to work beyond this date.