Latest opioid overdose survey tracks incidents in Snohomish County

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Source: Snohomish County Health District

During one week in July, 27 people in Snohomish County overdosed because of opioids, according to the data released Monday by the Snohomish Health District. Two of those overdoses were located in Edmonds, two were in Mountlake Terrace and one was in Lynnwood.

Two overdoses — both were fatal,

That information comes from the third annual seven-day point-in-time count by the Snohomish Health District in partnership with the Snohomish County Opioid Response Multi-Agency Coordination (MAC) Group.

According to the Snohomish Health District announcement:

The point-in-time effort started two summers ago. Until then, the only primary data about the effect of opioids in Snohomish County was total number of deaths. It could take 12 to 18 months to get those numbers. To better analyze and respond to the opioid epidemic, the Health District aimed to gather data as close to real time as possible. The point-in-time count brings together partners to capture a snapshot of what the opioid crisis looks like in Snohomish County.

The third annual point-in-time count is one method of gathering up-to-date information on overdoses. Hospitals, law enforcement, fire, EMS, the syringe exchange and other partners voluntarily collected data on overdoses for one week.

There were fewer overdoses reported this year compared to the past two seven-day counts, the health district said. The 2017 count included 37 overdoses and the 2018 count increased to 57 overdoses. The number of deaths was the same this year as last year.

In nearly three-quarters of the reported overdoses, the person received the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone, also known as Narcan. Police or EMS administered naloxone to 12 patients, and eight others were given naloxone by a friend, family member or bystander. Under a new standing order from the Washington State Health Officer, any person in the state can purchase naloxone from a pharmacy — the standing order works like a prescription that applies to all Washington residents.

Most of the overdoses were reportedly linked to heroin. In some cases, the heroin was used with other substances such as methamphetamine, alcohol, prescription opioids or benzodiazepine. Of the 27 people who overdosed, 17 obtained the drug or drugs on the street.

This year’s point-in-time tally also included the youngest overdose patient of the three counts, a 15-year-old. The oldest person who overdosed that week was 66. More than half of the reported overdoses were people in their 20s and 30s.

Source: Snohomish Health District

Efforts over the past few years to reduce the number of prescriptions for opioids and to encourage people to properly store and dispose of their medications have been well received by medical providers and the public, the announcement said. Unfortunately for those struggling with opioid use disorder, reducing the accessibility of prescription opioids may result in them turning to heroin.

Other takeaways from the data analysis:

  • Slightly more men overdosed than women, with 14 men compared to 10 women.
  • When looking at race and ethnicity, about two-thirds of the people who overdosed were identified as white.
  • The most common location for reported overdoses was a private residence.
  • Five of the people who overdosed — 18.5 percent of the total — were reported homeless.
  • Nearly one-third of the overdoses occurred between noon and 6 p.m.
  • More than half of the people who overdosed did not have 911 called in response to their medical emergency.

In addition to overdose data received from local partners, information was collected by the Corrections Bureau within the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. Just under 30 percent of new bookings during the seven-day period were inmates under opioid withdrawal watches.

Source: Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office

Note that methamphetamine and “other substances” are reported in addition to other drugs where withdrawal watch protocols are initiated. Withdrawal watch protocols are not used with these substances alone.

Fentanyl — a synthetic opioid that is up to 100 times more lethal than prescription opioids or heroin — is a growing concern, the health district said. It has been found mixed into other substances, including pills sold on the street as prescription opioids. Tracking fentanyl-related overdoses during the seven-day period was not feasible. However, data from the Washington State Department of Health indicates deaths from synthetic opioids like fentanyl are on the rise in Snohomish County. Preliminary data from 2018 shows 55 deaths were related to synthetic opioids, a 111% increase from 2017. The number of fentanyl cases being investigated by the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force has also been steadily increasing.

Source: Washington State Department of Health

“It is important to note that the information collected for this count was voluntary, so the data provided should not be construed as exhaustive or lab-confirmed,” the health district announcement said. Forms were completed with information on the place and type of overdose location, as well as the place of residence for the patient.

For more information on the Opioid Response MAC Group, visit  www.snohomishoverdoseprevention.com.

43 Replies to “Latest opioid overdose survey tracks incidents in Snohomish County”

  1. Thank you for providing readers with this information. Its good timing for your article because last week was International Overdose Awareness Day. Its good idea for anyone who lives with someone who uses opioids – prescribed or illicit – or who lives with someone who is recently sober from problem opioid use, to have Narcan at home. As your report points out, a third of the Narcan administrators were a friend, family member or bystander. Also important for everyone to know is that our state has a Good Samaritan Law. http://stopoverdose.org/section/good-samaritan-law/ If you seek medical assistance in a drug-related overdose, you cannot be prosecuted for drug possession. The overdose victim is also protected from drug possession charges. Even after giving Narcan, its still important to call 911. As your article shows us, overdoses happen to people of every age, every race, homeless or housed, and every life is valuable.

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    1. It’s weird that someone who uses heroine and hasn’t overdosed on it can be charged with drug possession, but someone who overdoses cant. It’s on its head. Imagine being prohibited from having a fire arm and having prosecutable immunity only if you actually hurt someone with it.

      We can all agree to disagree, but WA could just give out free injections and actually save money and lives. Clinics could give free daily injections paid for by savings in law enforcement and emergency care. It would prevent OD, put the drug dealers out of business, prevent new addicts (ya gotta be a current registered addict in WA to get your free injection). It would decimate prescription drug abuse, probably lower drug costs for everyone. A fast and unannounced registration is key or we’d basically import addicts unless other states did it too. If I were governor.

      OD’s should be charged and given a bill.

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  2. Should be consequence’s for them. Using the public resources and tying up the hospitals for these self indulged individuals. They have nothing to fear and know some bleeding heart will come to their rescue. Fed up with them all!!!

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  3. I agree..Narcon doesn’t stop the reoccurrence..only saves them temporarily. They should be treated like a suicide person. Isn’t that what they are doing at the publics cost?

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  4. A civil, caring society takes care of the suffering and the sick (and the old and the disabled, etc.). That’s the sort of society I want to live in.

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  5. That’s a lot of reporting for very little information.
    Do you k ow how many people were killed in Snohomish county during the same period by medical mistakes?
    Significantly more.
    Since the number one cause of all non-disease related deaths in the USA is MEDICAL MISTAKES. In fact Medical Mistakes are the number two cause of death in the USA every year with over 250,000 people falling victim to these preventable deaths.

    Yet all we hear about is the DEA created fake “opioid crisis” which could have been avoided by preventing the DEA from interfering with pain management doctors and their patients.

    The manufactured opioid crisis could also be easily….READ EASILY reversed by eliminating the DEA.

    Look at countries that have decriminalized opiates and pain meds. Their death rates are astonishingly low in comparison.

    Think what you want but the DEA is the cause of this and as I point out there are more pressing emergencies that CAN be fixed killing way more Americans.

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  6. It sounds like neither of you has had to deal with the agony of watching someone you love descend into the hell of addiction. If only it was as simple as you suggest. I spent the last few weeks sending texts of support to a family friend whose teenage son just died from an overdose. His heart is definitely bleeding, but he can no longer rescue his son.

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  7. How exactly would you treat this “disease?”
    Many people try to commit suicide more than once. Like opiate users.
    April, many people have dealt with opium users in the family. What we need is a proven way (and they are out there) to help addicts. And it isn’t allowing them or giving them drugs. It’s not allowing them to live on the streets. An opiate user uses around $1000-1500 a month in opiates. Minimum. Where do you suppose they get that money???

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  8. Matt, giving drugs to addicts does not work. Look at Canada, they have been fighting this problem much longer than us. They tried giving away drugs. Situation got a lot worse. Watch Canadian TV nightly very informative.

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    1. That’s just not accurate. It costs less than $100.00 monthly to medicate opiate addicts. Management of their treatment is key. Giving “drugs” to addicts does work when the drugs are part of a proven treatment protocol.
      Would you say the same thing about someone who has diabetes and needs insulin, or heart failure and needs a vasodiolator?
      Of course not. “Canada” takes much the same approach as the USA wherein they use politics to bash 5hose people suffering from opiate addiction as if it’s a moral failure.
      The countries you want to compare to are those like Uruguay who have decriminalized in total drug use and instead of funneling outrageous amounts of money to a militant police force they instead use that money for treatment.
      That’s why only 3 people per million there die of opiate overdose and over 80 per million die in the USA and Canada.
      You have been programmed with propaganda to believe the very ignorant things you said. They are so completely wrong it’s no wonder the war on drugs has failed, so many people in the USA have fallen so unthinkingly into the route responses that keep us wasting billions on actions proven over decades to utterly fail. As they have. In fact the more law enforcement involved itself in a.medical issue the more people die. Study after study have proven conclusively that people can and do thrive on lifetime opiate use when managed properly and when needed. They key to ending opiate use is not law enforcement its treatment and prevention because even short term use can permanently change the brain and require medication for life. It’s not a moral failure and it’s not a criminal issue. What our governments have done however is criminal.

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      1. Joy has been right about a great many things. In fairness, just giving out injections in a clinic like other countries have done would absolutely attract addicts here like cats. There’s a big difference between trials and a system where there are so many external variables. Easy access to OD meds, free needles given out, safe shoot-up sites, and decriminalization of drugs and misdemeanors has made it all worse.

        I’m actually being a bit more radical and clinical. In the same way WA State took over the lottery, I’d have WA become a monopoly drug dealer. I’m not optimistically advocating this. I simply see no way of “waging a war” on this problem other than taking it over.

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    2. It’s not a novel idea. Small Clinical trials in Canada have positive results according to sources I see. Roll it out en masse. Register all the addicts, inject them at no cost to them if they register. Kick off the registration program unannounced so that no one can move here simply for free drugs. We’d have a captive addict population of [say] 75% of all addicts. We could make them keep jobs, residences in exchange for a daily fix. It could effectively vaccinate Seattle.

      http://www.pri.org/stories/2018-09-27/canada-some-doctors-are-prescribing-heroin-treat-heroin-addiction%3famp

      https://www.thenation.com/article/switzerland-addiction-prescribed-heroin/

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    1. Even unborn lives. A woman abusing opioids while pregnant is not only causing self harm. The birth canal shouldnt be the leftist version of Trumps boarder walll. We give rights to people on both sides of the barrier.

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  9. How could it cost $100 a month to care for opiate users but $7-10k a month to care for seniors in retirement homes?
    One interesting problem Canada had regarding giving addicts drugs. They gave them a exact amount daily. (Remember they have to shoot themselves up for legal purposes, lawsuits etc).
    The amount of used needles found in parks, streets, etc doubled. So then they started the exchange needles for needles program…Guess what?? Didn’t work..someone high won’t bring needles back. So only a very few had the needle. Oh, they keep coming back for more drugs, almost causing a riot, so Canada gave in. The Devils in the Details. Now, they told the public, that if that gave them the drugs there would be a lot less needles laying around…that’s not happening.
    Yes every life matters, but we need to convince addicts that. Where is your compassion? Keeping and addicts on drugs? Becoming the addicts dealer? Just because we the people buy and give these drugs to addicts, doesn’t mean there won’t be deaths. You think they won’t still buy more drugs from others???

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    1. You are comparing apples to oranges. I did not suggest that it would cost $100 per month for RESIDENTIAL treatment of addicts. I started a fact. The fact is that MEDICATION, not heroin that is injected by needle, that medication provided to treat addiction, such as Methadone or Naloxone costs less than $100 per month. Both those medications are similar to heroin in that they are opioids. They are not however the same as heroin.

      Furthermore, a safe space for addicts to inject is not medical treatment. Many of the same addicts who self medicate could benefit from OUTPATIENT forms of treatment that are much more cost constrained.

      As to you assertion that “we” buy and give drugs to addicts and that then they will buy drugs from others…well I don’t know where to start because that statement is so inflammatory as to approach the surreal.

      I dont know who is advocating giving “drugs” to addicts. Do you take “drugs”? Do you go out and buy “more” after you take the drugs you were prescribed?

      There is a direct correlation between increased enforcement of pain management doctors and the increase of opiate addicts seeking drugs on the streets. There is decades of evidence to conclusively demonstrate that when a doctor manages the prescribed use of opiates that the patients by in large do very well for very long periods of time. Neither increasing their daily use or seeking to purchase additional drugs outside the medical treatment regime.
      Long term treatment of opiate addicts with drugs in the opiate class has shown itself to be stable and beneficial.

      The DEA went too far and got in between legitimate pain patients who benefited from these drugs and their doctors. Running the doctors out of business and the patients to the streets where their medications were not managed and overdoses climbed.

      Roll back law enforcement involvement and their ability to police doctors and the problem will begin to reverse. Simple minded actions beget simple minded outcomes.

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  10. John, if you want to talk drugs we should probably talk a bigger country. Their entire population is around 3500. But for the save of discussion, I just looked it up. This is what I found.
    As it is, Uruguay is seeing rising numbers of cocaine seizures and increases in domestic cocaine and coca paste consumption. It is thought that Uruguay may be serving South American drug traffickers as a strong embarkation point for drugs destined for Europe.

    Uruguay’s consumption figures for cocaine bring it to third place among South American countries, with an estimated 4 percent of the population using the drug. But it’s the increase of use that is the most startling. Between 1994 and 2007, cocaine use statistics more than quadrupled. Much higher now.
    So here we have a country that many work for cartels..(close to Brazil in South America)
    Many of the population do cocaine and heroin. Where is the success rate here?

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  11. Seems like it would be pretty simple to use the same model for opiates and other narcotic substances that we now use for alcohol. We proved prohibition of alcohol doesn’t work and it only took about a decade to back off of that disaster of a social experiment. We can learn from experience if we really want to.

    Alcoholism is viewed as a disease. People who aren’t “addicted” can buy it and use it as they please If they buy it and sell or give it to minors, they go to jail. People who are addicted and are causing problems for themselves and others around them, like drunk driving and domestic violence, are arrested and given the choice of treatment or incarceration. This would work as well for so called “hard drugs” if you took the moral failing and character flaw assertions and assumptions out of the equation.

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    1. Clint, as you know the costs to implement some of these ideas is quite large Jails are about $45,000/year per guest. Mental health or addiction treatment probably much higher per year per person served. If we are attempting to provide housing for folks with no addictions or mental issues it is likely to be a minimum of $25,000 per year. If we could find more efficient cost models it may come in at $30,000 per person to address these issues. That’s means for 1000 people needing some form of help the cost would be $30m/per year. While folks may want to “fix” some of these issues they are not likely to be happy with these kind of costs. Maybe the folks working on these issues know some of these cost as well and that may be why we do not see these traditional solutions on the top of the list.

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  12. I can see in the thread of comments that there are some terms and details being confused with one another. This is a complex issue so confusion is not surprising.
    Opioid use disorder can be treated with three different kinds of medications (or with behavioral interventions) that all work differently from one another. Naltrexone (brand name Vivitrol) is an opioid blocker and is the most expensive at about $1500 per monthly injection. Patients must fully detox before they can use Vivitrol, which is difficult and also poses an overdose risk for people who become abstinent and then relapse). Bupenorphine (brand name Suboxone is Bupenorphine plus naloxone) is a daily medication people can take at home and Methadone is a daily medication taken at a clinic. These are inexpensive medications (especially methadone) and have years and years of research showing their effectiveness over behavioral interventions alone. Methadone works by binding to opioid receptors like heroin does but more slowly acting and Suboxone works by partially activating those opioid receptors but not as fully as heroin. Naloxone (brand name Narcan) is the opioid overdose reversal medication (it’s not a treatment for addiction) and runs about $130 (not the $4k cited by another reader). These are all different than heroin replacement programs piloted in some other countries, which provides medical grade heroin to people dependent on street heroin.

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  13. It’s gone up…I just looked it up…
    Narcon, a drug that blocks the effects of drugs like heroin immediately after an overdose. It’s saved countless lives in states like New Hampshire, where opioid overdoses are up 73.5 percent year over year, and 2,800 doses were administered in the state from January to August alone.

    The makers of the drug know this, and they are starting to make victims—and states—pay.

    The auto-inject version of the drug that used to cost $575 for two doses now costs $3,750, according to Politico. The generic, Naloxone, isn’t much better: pre-crisis, the drug cost $1.84 per dose. Now, the drug costs 17 times that.

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    1. I just called Bartell’s Pharmacy in Edmonds: the out of pocket cost for the brand-name Narcan is $90.29 and the generic Naloxone is $22.69. It is available without a prescription, so if you have family or friends that are at risk of an overdose, or if you are a concerned community member, you can keep this life-saving drug on hand.

      Additionally, Verdant Health is offering free Community Narcan Training on Wednesday, September 18th. Info and register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/community-narcan-training-tickets-65281663212

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    2. That Politico article is from 2016 and the prices are way out of date.
      Naloxone is covered by my insurance – I will only pay $15 – and I bet most other major insurance providers.
      Everyone whose loved one uses opioids, prescription or non, should have this lifesaving drug on hand. It’s easy for people to accidentally take too many pills, mix medications, etc.
      I have known people who overdosed, and were saved by Narcan. I know people who were addicted to opioids and have overcome this addiction – including some who are still physically dependent, but living healthy, productive lives due to the medications Lara describes above. (You probably know some too, but don’t realize that these neighbors, coworkers, and friends are “drug addicts.”)
      I am glad they are alive.

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  14. Except if you live King county homeless camps. You can buy sell to minors and have several shots heroin on you legally. Laws don’t apply there. Dont know why. (If you are in the camps)

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  15. Laura, I’m not debating Narcan affects..I’m sure most of the time they work. I’m glad you have insurance that pays great price because your working. My issue is how much it costs for the street homeless crowd with No insurance. I too know several people on saboxine. They function, Pretty well. But are we dealing with the disease? Making e cigs purchase (soon to be over 21years old) will help. They say e-cigs for kids are the new gateway drug. PS..Saboxine certainly isn’t cheap.
    Government shouldn’t be in the business as drug sellers. Not their role. You don’t want a government making $$ from illness. (Selling)
    How compassionate is it to medicate the disease? Not cure medicate? We ALL KNOW PEOPLE who are addicts. They are in our families..
    My suggestion, as always, is to uphold our laws. Separate the mentally disabled out of the group. (Open back up mental hospitals.) then the rest and most, 90%, you deal with. You offer the addict get in-house help minimum 1 year. Or jail. But off our streets. If we have to pay for In-house treatment facilities, so be it. After their One year they need to “give back” to society by working or helping that treatment facility 1 year. (In some way or form.). We are already spending billions let’s try to really become compassionate. It’s called tough love and it works.

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  16. The smart move would be to legalize all this crap, regulate it and tax it to cover the costs of the problems it creates. Like alcohol make it a serious offense to supply minors for any reason. At least you would put the drug lords and property thieves out of business. If the morons who want to use and abuse this stuff can’t afford it, just give it to them. This would cost us a lot less than what we are doing now as a society. When you prohibit anything, you create a black market, corruption and crime that costs society dearly. This isn’t going to happen of course as we just love to tell people what they can and can’t do for their own good.

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  17. Now that I’m approaching severe “feeblehood” I’ve come to the conclusion that Politics and Religion (i.e dogmatic ideology of any stripe) are pretty much the cause of all human social problems, or perhaps more accurately, the lack of solutions for same. The “one true God” and the “my party is the only one that can save us” are mantras that have gotten a lot of folks killed and/or in bondage over the centuries.

    Politics and Religion tend to create a lot of hypocrites. For example, many die hard liberals think it’s a great idea to provide homes for the homeless, until they find out the next camp is going on the vacant lot across the street of the home they have up for sale. Many conservatives are totally against abortion until their girlfriend or daughter ends up with an unwanted pregnancy.

    In the end we are just human, and there are no magic solutions to anything really. Some of us are well equipped with the skills to be happy and thrive in the world we have created for ourselves. Others struggle and use what crutches they find available to make them feel better.

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  18. Actually Christians aren’t for abortions even if it is their son or daughter. Some Christians may want their kids to have the child and either put up for adoption or keep.
    I think the homeless drug problem is more of a health problem for society.
    Black Plague and other irradiated diseases in this country are making a comeback in the camps.
    we need places to help these addicts into a rehab facility or jail. but off the streets. Not same for the larger population. Felons hang out in those groups, and who know else. Our area is changing and not for the good.

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  19. I agree very much with most of what you say, but I always feel it is a mistake to say what Christians are “for” or “aren’t for”.We are a diverse group, and hold varied beliefs and interpretations. Nor does one need to be “for” something to believe that it may sometimes be sadly necessary.

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  20. I didn’t mean to start a discussion of the pros and cons of anything here. My point was that peoples’ professed ideals often don’t match their actions when reality suddenly sets in. Personally, I believe very strongly in the philosophy of Christ (“do unto others . . .”) but I don’t think one has to worship him overtly or promote him within a given set of dogmas or a one true religion concept. I just think people who live by his philosophy of life, tend to live happier and less difficult lives. Mankind’s big failing is that we like to over complicate things. Jesus was the ultimate uncomplicated man as far as I can tell. Long white robe to keep warm and shield from the hot sun as needed; pair of think sole sandals; some close pals; and almost no worldly goods to have to take care of. Can’t get much simpler than that.

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  21. My abortion point, in response to Angie Doulas saying “EVERY life is valuable”, was really just me saying that for 99% of us, we don’t really care about most of these issues. The jungle isn’t keeping us awake at night. As an atheist, I’m saying there’s very little moral underpinning to how we feel about these issues. Does a pregnant woman have the right to abuse opioids? I don’t think so, and I say this for moral reasons and scientific anthropological reasons.

    The best solution is one where the least of our valuable lives are getting aborted or born to eventually become homeless and addicted. There’s no panacea, but we can objectively say that Democrats have been in charge, their designs are in play, and the situation is categorically getting worse. It’s not that Republicans have offered anything, but we’re not in charge right now. Democrats used to Just-Say-No too, and they won the tough on crime game by being tougher on crime. We’ve made our own mistakes. We gotta do something different.

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  22. There’s no way, handing out Narcan, needles, and decriminalizing possession if you OD is going to reduce OD. All that gets baked into the individual risk assessment matrix. Addicts [today] will actually seek out the drug dealer who sold drugs to someone who OD’s because they know that if someone OD’s then the drugs are strong and maybe a good value. Add the Narcan safety net, add the decriminalization of possession if you OD, then you created the environment where addicts will be ever more cavalier in their drug abuse.

    There’s great intentions behind these backwards ideas.

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    1. Matt, you are wonderful with causing us all to look at topics in different ways to more fully understand the “rest of the story” This is a compliment, you remind me of three things:
      1. The energizer bunny.
      2. A salmon swimming up stream to spawn, bashing yourself along the way but with a missing of completing your goal and in most cases you goal is to help us all look at things a different ways.
      3. There is a joke about an old bull and an young bull standing on the hillside when they spot a herd of cows. The young bull says “Let’s run ….” and the old Bull says “Let’s walk ….”
      Matt, keep us thinking and learning, and let’s “walk” through these topics together.

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  23. Matt..I wish you would educate yourself on Substance Abuse Disorder. There’s a lot of new research and approaches to this epidemic. What holds back people getting the help they need is this backward thinking. My beautiful passed away from an overdose last summer. July 2018. An Edmonds girl her whole life. Our family is beyond devastated and myself as her mother can barely go on. All I can do to honor her is to educate, raise awareness and stand up for people like her that tried over and over but these drugs are to powerful and deadly. I wish narcan would have been there for her.

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    1. Jeanie, I am so sorry for your painful loss. Many of us have experienced horrible loss in our families that have been devastated by drugs and alcohol. As far as “Substance Abuse Disorder”, it is a new name for drug addiction. Matt has probably forgotten more about drug addiction than most people know, he is anything but “backward thinking”. As Darrol just wrote, Matt tells “the rest of the story”. He is always open to hearing other people’s perspective without calling names or insults. We think of him as a valuable counterbalance to many topics/opinions presented here at MEN.

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      1. James – Nope it’s not new, 2012 ICD-9 Diagnostic codes 304.00 (dependent) and 305.00 (non-dependent) drug abuse codes with various agents and patterns of abuse. Seems like if Matt has some tough life experiences, why are you telling everybody? I guess that’s between you and Matt. Also your last sentence infers that you work at MEN. Do you have articles or take pictures? When you say “We” is that you and the publisher and the editors?

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