Partnership Seeks to Reduce Substance Use Disorder in the Region

Adrienne Mael (right), President and CEO of the United Way of Columbia and Montour Counties recently welcomed Olivia Oden (left), as the organization’s new stigma reduction and education coordinator.

The United Way of Columbia and Montour Counties along with Geisinger Health Plan have joined forces on a two-year program for those struggling with substance use disorder. A $118,500 grant from Pennsylvania’s Commission on Crime and Delinquency enabled the United Way to hire Olivia Oden as their new stigma reduction and education coordinator as well as expand their current United in Recovery program. The Columbia Montour Chamber is a partner organization in United in Recovery to help individuals lead more healthy and productive lives.

“Through a cooperative agreement with Geisinger, Olivia is also an employee with the health insurance company which gives her access to its vast resources and network of providers,” said Adrienne Mael, President and CEO the United Way of Columbia and Montour Counties. The main goal of this program is to reduce stigma surrounding addiction, support individuals in recovery, and reduce opioid overdose deaths. Last year the country saw 192 overdose deaths per day, and Pennsylvania is the third-worst state impacted by overdose related deaths.

“We have to realize the disease of substance use can affect anyone,” said Oden. “One in three people are directly affected by substance use disorder or SUD, if not in their immediate family then someone they know.”

Oden’s outreach will include presentations to schools, health care professionals, civic organizations, and employers in an effort to change society’s view on those suffering from substance use disorder. In addition, the United Way is also hosting Recovery Resources Events throughout the year. These community events bring local and state organizations together in one place to offer a judgement-free atmosphere where those in recovery or active addiction can find free assessments, childcare resources, counseling and so much more. The United Way has developed a resource guide (link to attached file) to assist individuals struggling with substance use or other issues.

For more information on the United in Recovery program, upcoming Recovery Resources Events, or the United Way of Columbia and Montour Counties in general, visit www.cmcuw.org or call (570) 784-3134.