‘Decisions Matter’ Campaign Evolving In Worcester

BERLIN – The Worcester County Health Department has shifted its focus in the “Decisions Matter” campaign to target a larger audience after last year’s kickoff.

The campaign, which ran from July to September of 2015, originally focused on improving teen decisions with substance abuse, but has since evolved to reach all populations in the county.

The campaign originally focused on targeting teen behavior with billboards, radio commercials and distribution cards.

Kat Gunby, director of prevention services at the Health Department, credits the community’s involvement for giving the campaign more resources on prevention and treatment.

These resources now include educational material, counseling and treatment services and support groups.

The Health Department, in an effort to extend its program, is now offering training services for naloxone, an emergency treatment method for overdose.

Those who complete the training course receive a voucher to get naloxone without a prescription from participating pharmacies. Some insurance plans may cover costs.

Gunby says the goal of these programs is to destigmatize the issue of prescription abuse and drug addiction.

Those that become addicted to prescription medication often resort to heroin to cut costs, according to Gunby.

“It is almost more respectable to pop a pill than shoot up heroin,” Gunby says.

After a drastic increase in drug and alcohol related fatalities, Gov. Larry Hogan created the Maryland Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force last February.

Last year, studies from the Task Force concluded more than 300 residents in the state received controlled substances from five or more prescribers in July 2015.

Although the Health Department does not know how the campaign has affected statistics, Gunby says it has improved communication about the topic.

“We think a peer-to-peer approach is going to resonate even stronger in Worcester County,” Gunby says.

With Recovery Month starting Sept. 1, the Health Department is hosting open houses for the Center for Clean Start and other programs, where they hope to open lines of communication on addiction.

The Health Department will continue to reach out to teens as it extends its campaign.

Gunby says the department continues to work closely with its Worcester County Youth Council and Students Against Destructive Decisions to raise awareness.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.