The Orange County Heroin Task Force was convened in August 2015 by Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, with Orange County Sheriff Jerry L. Demings as co-chair. Orange County’s collaborative, multi-jurisdictional Heroin Task Force was comprised of 22 key community leaders, lending their expertise and staff in the areas of law enforcement, healthcare, treatment, education and prevention as well as public policy. The Task Force adopted 37 recommendations for implementation. In addition to legislative advocacy during the 2017 session, Task Force members were key to getting Naloxone into the hands of more first responders – especially law enforcement – through legislative action in the 2016 session.
Mayor Jacobs and the Task Force were instrumental in the launch of the Vivitrol® program, a medication-assisted treatment program administered through the Orange County Jail that helps inmates fight addiction before they are released.
In 2016, the Orange County Medical Examiner’s Office attributed 66 deaths to heroin and 68 to fentanyl. The 2017 numbers already confirm that deaths related to heroin and fentanyl are expected to exceed those in 2016.
Orange County’s Heroin Task Force met for six months to complete its analysis, recommendations, and the development of an action plan that addresses this critical issue. An oversight advisory committee assists in implementing the 37 recommendations. Other recommendations already implemented include the Vivitrol® Pilot program offered through the Orange County Jail and equipping local law enforcement with Naloxone, which has since been credited with saving 120 lives.
HEROES AGAINST HEROIN
In August 2017, Mayor Jacobs and members of the Heroin Task Force announced the launch of the Heroes Against Heroin website aimed to increase education and awareness on the impact of Heroin and opioid abuse in the community. The website has information about treatment for those dealing with addiction and is a resource on how families can prevent substance use before it starts. The website is one of 37 key recommendations adopted by the Orange County Heroin Task Force for implementation.