LONG BEACH — When Judge Don Richter described an innovative way to treat drug offenders in Pacific County Superior Court earlier this month, he used the term “opioid crisis.”
Health leaders who share that description of the extent of the problem are seeking to highlight what is being done to combat it.
An “opioid summit” will be held in Long Beach Wednesday, Sept. 25. It will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Chautauqua Lodge, 304 14th St. NW, Long Beach.
The event is sponsored by Pacific County Health and Human Services, the WellSpring Community Network, Willapa Behavioral Health and the Opioid Response Team.
“We highly encourage anyone from Pacific County to attend that has been impacted by opioid-use disorder,” said Katie Lindstrom, deputy director of Pacific County Health. “Perhaps you have an impacted friend or family member, or are a healthcare worker, social worker, school staff member, law-enforcement official, parent, or business owner.”
“Building Solutions, Healing Communities” will begin with an overview discussion on opioid abuse in Pacific County, followed by keynote speaker Dr. John Hart from Peace Health at 10:20 a.m. Detailed breakout sessions will follow.
The event highlights issues that were addressed at a similar program in October 2018. That event was spearheaded by Willapa Behavioral Health, which provides mental health and drug and alcohol support programs in Long Beach and Raymond.
As reported in July, Pacific was fourth among Washington’s 39 counties in oxycodone and hydrocodone sales per person in the years when nationwide overuse of pain pills reached deadly proportions.
Nearly 10.2 million prescription pain pills were supplied in Pacific County between 2006 and 2012 — enough for 68 pills per person per year. That statistic was listed in federal Drug Enforcement Administration data obtained by the Washington Post.
It is known that disproportionate quantities of pain pills were sold in most coastal counties of Washington and Oregon, in part because of the large number of retired and disabled working people who settle near the ocean.
The sessions on Sept. 25 will be for law enforcement, healthcare workers, community members and parents. Among the participants are the Long Beach Police Department, Ocean Beach Hospital, Peace Health and the Washington State Health Care Authority.
Bethany Barnard, Opioid Response Team coordinator, said the team’s objective is to address the opioid epidemic in Pacific County in three key areas:
• expanding access to treatment;
• finding more ways to reduce harm;
• streamlining services for those suffering from disorders connected with opioid use.
One part of this strategy has the county supporting recent efforts at the Family Health Center in Klipsan, which began a clean syringe swap program to reduce health risks for intravenous drug users addicted to heroin and methamphetamine.
Also, the county health department has worked with Superior Court judges and Pacific County Jail administrators to find people who commit crimes to support their drug use and steer them toward treatment and recovery through a drug court program.
Advance registration for the summit is available at www.eventbrite.com/e/2019-pacific-county-opioid-summit-tickets-65532807391.
For more information, contact Barnard by email at email@example.com or call 360-875-9343, ext. 2650.