Regional players respond to opioid crisis as team (01/28/2018 Herald Commentary)


Commentary: Regional players respond to opioid crisis as team

Using disaster response as a model, a multi-agency group is coordinating the response to the crisis.

Editor’s note: This is the first in a weekly series of commentaries that will examine the opioid crisis in Snohomish County from four different perspectives.

By Dave Somers

Every part of Snohomish County is affected by the opioid crisis.

We see the evidence where we live, work and play, but most importantly, it’s experienced by each of our families in one way or another. From nuisance crimes, to the homeless on our streets and in camps, to the needles left in parks, to the many overdose victims flooding our emergency rooms and morgues, we can see first-hand the effects of this insidious disease. It knows no limits, hitting urban, suburban and rural areas equally hard. Victims of addiction are wealthy and poor, employed and jobless, men and women, young and old. These are our neighbors, friends, and family.

While Snohomish County has 10 percent of the population in Washington state, we have 18 percent of its opioid overdoses. We had to do more.

Last year, as we were reviewing policy ideas for improving our response to the crisis, one issue became crystal clear. Everyone was working very hard to contain their part of the problem, but there was no over-arching mechanism for collaboration.