Mayor Steve Williams is representing the City of Huntington and leading a five-member delegation at the Mayors’ Institute on Opioids hosted by the National League of Cities (NLC) this week in Boston.
In addition to Huntington, cities participating in the Mayors’ Institute include Knoxville, Tennessee; Madison, Wisconsin; Manchester, New Hampshire; New Bedford, Massachusetts; and Tacoma, Washington.
The Mayors’ Institute on Opioids is providing an opportunity for local leaders to engage in practical, solutions-oriented discussions and peer-to-peer learning opportunities. The immersive, three-day event, which began Tuesday, May 8, will be followed by 12 months of ongoing expert assistance tailored to each participating city’s needs, with the work building on local efforts already underway.
“We are looking forward to spending the next few days with our colleagues from five other cities across the nation as we learn from one another about the solutions we are discovering in our efforts to overcome the ravages of the opioid crisis,” Williams said. “We have a powerful story to share in Huntington, and we trust that we will return home better equipped to continue the decline in overdoses that we have been fortunate to experience during the past several months.”
Overdoses in Cabell County have steadily declined 68 percent since August 2017. There were 62 overdoses in April, a 64 percent drop compared to April 2017. Officials have attributed the decrease to building partnerships and innovative programs among various agencies during the past three years.
Each participating mayor was allowed to bring a delegation of up to four individuals. Joining Williams in Boston are City Manager Cathy Burns, Huntington Interim Police Chief Hank Dial, Huntington Fire Chief Jan Rader, and Bob Hansen, director of addiction services at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and Marshall Health.
During the intensive, three-day meeting, the delegations will look closely at their respective strengths and weaknesses and discuss key areas ranging from prevention, treatment and recovery to effective harm reduction efforts.
“Our country has struggled with how to respond to major substance abuse and mental health issues in the recent past, but we have an opportunity to learn from mistakes, and ultimately prevent and treat individuals suffering from addiction,” NLC President and CEO Clarence E. Anthony said. “We must continue to understand what’s working, what’s not and build stronger paths forward. Our only chance at confronting and overcoming the opioid epidemic is to work together.”
Going forward, NLC will share best practices from the Mayors’ Institute, as well as additional lessons learned from the cities during the year of technical assistance that follows. The goal over the coming months is to create a ripple effect and provide information and insights that help every city leader who is grappling with this crisis.
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