Grays Harbor County Public Health and Social Services Department is participating in a 5-year grant awarded to Washington State by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The grant provides free naloxone to those at risk of an opioid overdose and supports the County’s efforts to prevent opioid addiction.
“Opioid abuse and overdose death is a public health crisis that touches all of our lives. The good news is that it can be prevented. Our immediate goal is to get people into treatment and, ultimately, recovery. Getting naloxone out into the community has and will save lives,” says Karolyn Holden, Director.
Since April, 378 naloxone kits have been distributed and 76 have been reported used in our community. Naloxone is a medicine that temporarily stops the effects of opioids (heroin, OxyContin, Percocet, dilaudid, fentanyl, methadone, etc.) and can prevent someone from dying of an overdose.
Anyone can get a free naloxone kit at Public Health’s syringe exchange program and training is provided to all who carry naloxone. Throughout this summer and fall, more locations around Grays Harbor will become naloxone distribution sites. In Washington State, naloxone kits are legal to carry and administer in a suspected opioid overdose and should not be confiscated.
“Naloxone distribution is just one part of the Department’s comprehensive approach to the opioid crisis in our community,” explains Holden.
Public Health coordinates Hoquiam’s My TOWN Coalition, which works to prevent young people from using drugs in the first place. A local strategic plan to prevent opioid use and misuse is underway as well.
At Public Health’s 13-year-old syringe exchange program, people who inject drugs can turn in their used needles for clean ones. This reduces the spread of HIV, Hepatitis C, and other blood-borne infections among people who inject drugs as well as their families, and communities. It also prevents those needles from ending up in public places. Public Health collected 750,000 needles last year, down from 900,000 the year before.
“When people visit our syringe exchange program, we make sure that they not only exchange their used needles for clean ones, but that they also get information about drug treatment services,” says Holden. “We care about them and want them to get well so we make every effort to connect them with treatment services.”
Holden says that the drop in the number of needles exchanged shows that drug treatment and community collaboration works -- and that there is hope.
If you or a loved one is interested in getting opioid related treatment, help is available. People with Washington State Apple Health insurance coverage can call (360) 795-5955 to discuss treatment options in Grays Harbor County. You can also contact Evergreen Treatment Services in Hoquiam at (360) 209-6339.
For more information about naloxone distribution in Grays Harbor County, visit www.healthygh.org/directory/opp.
For more information about the syringe exchange program and local drug treatment options, visit www.healthygh.org/directory/syringe.
To reach someone at Grays Harbor’s 24-hour Crisis Clinic, please call (360) 532- HELP.