Spokane Regional Health District forms task force to combat opioid epidemic

Spokane Regional Health District forms task force to combat opioid epidemic

It’s made up of community leaders from all across the county and its focused on one thing, combating the opioid epidemic that is sweeping Spokane, just as it is the nation. The Spokane Regional Health District has formed a regional task force that will hopefully help decrease the number of deadly overdoses and limit addiction rates.

In Spokane, between 2013 and 2017 there were almost 200 fatal opioid overdoses, and within the last month, more than 6000 people will have used opioids to get high, including five percent of all high school students.

The task force will largely focus on education, streamlining the process to connect addicts to resources that can help, and working with providers and patients to consider new ways of treatment.

“Unfortunately, our health care providers have become very comfortable using opioids, and patients have come to expect that,” said Dr. Bob Lutz, the district’s Health Officer.

He says the task force will work with providers to consider different pain management regimens for long-term pain suffers, such as acupuncture, yoga and physical therapy.

The will also be hosting several drug take-back events, to encourage people with unused or expire drugs, especially opioids to bring them in for safe disposal.

“I really discourage people from flushing stuff down the toilet,” Lutz said, “we don’t need to pollute our water system and you can’t just throw them out because people will rummage through trash cans looking for medications.

Daybreak Youth Services is one of the organizations with members on the task force, they say a huge part of combating the opioid epidemic is understanding that addiction doesn’t discriminate.

“Substance abuse disorders aren’t prejudiced,” said Dawn Flees, Outpatient Clinical Supervisor at Daybreak, “they don’t care where you come from, what color your skin is, or how much money you make or how educated you are, it can affect any of us.”

She works with adolescents and sees the impacts opioids have on their life.

“They ruin relationships, their health, their school work,” she said, “it means more dropping out of school because they aren’t making it to school.”

She says prescribed drugs are especially troublesome for the younger generations.

“Adolescents don’t think that is a problem because it is prescribed,” she said, “they don’t realize how dangerous they can be.”

For more information on Daybreak click here to go to their website.

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