Local governmental agencies, including the Snohomish Health District, Snohomish County Human Services, and local police agencies, have been conducting public forums to educate about and discuss the heroin epidemic in Snohomish County. Recently, a forum was held in Arlington.
The forums provide a background about heroin and opioids in Snohomish County and their effects on our population. The meetings are intended to educate the public on the epidemic and in a way, a call to action. Local government agencies can take action, but they need the public’s help and support in order to be successful.
According to a Snohomish Health District handout, four things need to be done toward fighting the heroin/opioid epidemic:
1. Increase detox capacity. More detox beds are needed in Snohomish County.
2. Expand Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) opportunities. This includes more methadone clinics, use of buprenorphine and naltrexone.
3. Educate the public on Washington State’s Good Samaritan Law (http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=69.50.315). Up to two weeks ago, 56 lives have been saved since the beginning of distribution of naloxone.
4. Implement evidence-based practices. This would include alternate sentencing and medically assisted treatments in place of incarceration. Offer services to addicts.
Other actions suggested that the government and the public can take include:
· Build healthy, resilient families-
o Educate children about drugs.
o Involve children in healthy activities
o Get unused prescription drugs out of homes. (Go to http://www.takebackyourmeds.org/what-you-can-do/locations/temporary-drop-off-locations for where you can take your unused prescriptions)
o Improve access to naloxone (http://www.snohomishcountywa.gov/naloxone).
o Create syringe exchanges.
· Individuals can-
o Learn more about the problem (This link is a good start- http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/heroin/index.html).
o Take action in the case of an overdose:
§ Learn how to recognize an overdose (http://www.snohd.org/Portals/0/Snohd/Diseases/files/VH-OpioidBrochure_CD.pdfFINAL2015.pdf)
§ Increase heroin/opioid awareness, reduce the stigma, take the judgement out of addiction.
§ Support recovery:
· Of the individual
· Recovery programs
The next public forum will be on October 13, at Edmonds Community College at 6:30pm.
Snohomish Health District: