Community Resource Fair spreads awareness about mental health and opioid crisis

San Luis Obispo County is not immune to the opioid crisis. Opioid overdose can affect anyone, and one way to combat it is through education.

At the free Support SLO Community Resource Fair in San Luis Obispo, hosted by Aspire Counseling Services, there were all kinds of mental health services under one roof.

The need is great and according to SLO County Behavioral Health, they have seen a 347% increase in opioid overdose deaths over the past 5 years.

“I wanted to use his story to help save others and make sure other families don’t have to struggle with the emptiness of an overdose,” says Danielle Murillo, who lost her son to an overdose and founded the nonprofit Let’s Make. a difference.

Jaycob Murillo was just 27 when he died of an opioid overdose in 2018.

“He came to me in a dream, my son came to visit and he said ‘use me to make a difference’, so that’s where the name comes from,” explains Murillo.

This is one of many organizations present at the Support SLO Community Resource Fair at Mission Prep in San Luis Obispo.

“People still stigmatize those who use substances, and still stigmatize people who struggle with mental health issues,” said Tom Buckley, the executive director of Aspire Counseling Services in San Luis Obispo. “San Luis Obispo is a great, beautiful place to live, but it can be difficult for people who are struggling here because there isn’t a lot of accessible care, so getting everyone under one roof is really important to show them that we are all on the work are together and there is treatment.”

Data collected in 2021 by SLO County Behavioral Health shows that 10 people died of overdose each month in San Luis Obispo County in 2021, and approximately 80% of those deaths involved fentanyl.

“Before, we really had to focus on opiates and prescription heroin, but what ends up happening is that fentanyl, which is much more potent and has much smaller doses, is being put into a lot of different drugs, not just opiates,” said Dr. Gerard Iru Fernando, the medical director of Aspire Behavioral Health.

That same report from SLO County Behavioral Health states that 164 patients also visited emergency departments for opioid-related incidents in this county in 2021.

“A lot of people who are addicted have a lot of trouble meeting obligations for their jobs, for their families, and they may even have signs of being drunk, so when people are drunk on opioids, they may be with constricted pupils. , a little more tired and a little more relaxed,” Dr. Fernando explained when asked about symptoms associated with opioid use.

SLO County Behavioral Health said that between Jan. 1, 2022 and Sept. 30, 2022, 38 lives were saved each month thanks to community use of naloxone.

“Narcan is a really great way to reverse an overdose, so this is an absolutely life-saving treatment,” added Dr. Fernando to it.

Saturday’s event included a Narcan distribution and training.

“If you have this device, you can shoot it in the nostril of a person who has overdosed and a person who appears to be overdosing is not responding to stimuli, not breathing,” said Dr Fernando. “What it does is it goes and it kicks those opiates off the opiate receptor and lets people breathe again, and for those opiates to stop acting on the systems.”

NAMI, Cuesta College, Cal Poly, SLO Co Recovery, CAPSLO, and Hospice SLO County also attended.

The focus was not only on dealing with addiction, but also on mental health issues with success stories such as that of Penelope Valdes who was part of Aspire Counseling Services’ teen program.

“You’re not alone, you’ll get through it,” says Valdes, who is now an alumni client.

She has plans to give back to other teens.

“I want to be like a therapist, help teens… I think just because I have a lot of experience going through things as a teen, I want to help others,” added Valdes.

Aspire Counseling Services offers free weekly family support groups on Tuesdays. For more information about other services, Click here.

Let’s Make a Difference offers education and scholarships. For more information, you can reach the organization by email at [email protected]

To access a free naloxone or Narcan kit, you can visit the SLO Opioid Safety Coalition website: Click here.

Community Resource Fair spreads awareness about mental health and opioid crisis

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