Not just saving lives but turning them around (01/24/2018 Herald Editorial)

IN OUR VIEW

Editorial: Not just saving lives but turning them around

Bills establishing diversion centers in Everett and Spokane will aid those with opioid addictions.

By The Herald Editorial Board

When past practices seem to be having little effect in resolving a crisis, it’s necessary to step back and consider other — often unconventional — approaches.

It’s what’s needed on several fronts to confront a local, statewide and national crisis with heroin and other opioids.

The crisis is especially acute in Snohomish County. While the county accounts for about 10 percent of the state’s population, the county suffered about 18 percent of the state’s deaths by heroin overdose, Sheriff Ty Trenary told the House Public Safety Committee earlier this month in Olympia. Between 2011 and 2016, opioid overdoes deaths were more than double that of traffic fatalities in the county.

The Snohomish Health District’s point-in-time count last year, between July 17 and 23, reported 37 overdoses from opioids, three of which were fatal. But the same report pointed to some hope of reversing the crisis; 24 lives were saved because of the wider availability of naloxone, also known as Narcan, which can reverse the deadly effects of an overdose.

Lives are being saved. Now we need to work to turn those lives around.

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