WEST CHESTER, PA — The 2022 Chester County Color 5K, held in October, raised $120,000 for the County’s Community Outreach Prevention and Education (COPE) program to help in the battle against opioid and heroin addiction. Commissioners Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell, and Michelle Kichline presented a check to Jamie Johnson, Director of the County’s Department of Drug & Alcohol Services (D&A), at yesterday’s County Commissioners’ meeting, saying that COPE is a life-saving program for those suffering from substance use disorder.
COPE provides 24/7 support to overdose survivors and their families at hospital emergency rooms throughout the county. Trained peer specialists make a personal connection to survivors in the emergency room and encourage them to enter treatment immediately following discharge from the hospital. The program also supplies information about overdose prevention and outreach to first responders, hospital staff and the families of overdose survivors.
Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline, whose efforts to address the opioid and heroin epidemic led to the introduction of the Color 5K in 2016, said, “People run the Color 5K for many reasons: to support the County’s efforts towards fighting drugs, or because they have been directly impacted – or know someone who has been touched – by substance use disorder. We must continue to unite as a community to fight this because the tragic results affect not just the individual but also their family, friends, neighbors, coworkers – everyone.”
“The Color 5K raises money and awareness for the COPE program to continue and expand,” said Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Marian Moskowitz. “Over the years more than $200,000 has been collected, thanks to the generosity of sponsors like the John Gailey and JoEllen Berger Charitable Fund, helping countless people take the difficult step to seek treatment for substance use disorder. We commend those seeking treatment and those working to make COPE a highly effective program, and we thank everyone who has contributed to the Color 5K over the years, whether through sponsorship, or by running.”
In addition to COPE, Chester County addresses the opioid crisis through its Overdose Prevention Task Force, which was formed in 2015. The mission of the Task Force is to prevent overdose deaths in Chester County through a multidisciplinary, coordinated effort between government departments, community organizations, and treatment providers. The Task Force is led by the Chester County Departments of D&A, Health, Human Services, the District Attorney’s Office, and Good Fellowship Ambulance and EMS Training Institute.
Commissioner Josh Maxwell noted, “Chester County has numerous avenues to treatment for those with substance use disorder. We are fortunate to live in a community that is committed to helping people overcome the ravages of opiate use disorder, including providing free Narcan and training courses for its use, as well as the COPE program. Above all, we know that recovery is possible, and it happens every day in Chester County, thanks to the work and support of a whole host of individuals and organizations.”
In addition to the COPE Program, Chester County introduced the Law Enforcement Treatment Initiative (LETI), started by the District Attorney’s Office in conjunction with D&A in early 2022. LETI is a collaborative effort between law enforcement and substance use treatment providers to save lives and reduce crime and recidivism. It provides an alternative option to law enforcement for people with substance use disorder who commit low-level, non-violent crimes to get treatment instead of punishment. Individuals can also contact a member of law enforcement to ask for a referral or to be connected to treatment with no threat of arrest or prosecution.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, help is available. Call the Drug & Alcohol Information and Referral at 1-866-286-3767 or Get Help Now, a 24/7 hotline, at 1-800-662-4357.
To learn more about Chester County’s Overdose Prevention Task Force, visit https://stopodchesco.org/.
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