This Crosscut opinion piece lays out an alternative to criminalizing homelessness and substance use disorders – including supportive housing and medication-assisted treatment.
ETS NEWS AND MEDIA COVERAGE
Recent national and local media coverage of Evergreen Treatment Services and our REACH team, the heroin epidemic, and national policy regarding opioid use and treatment.
The proposed safe-injection sites for Seattle and King County are in need of stable funding and could also face legal issues with the federal government, similar to what is happening in Pennsylvania.
The Washington State Healthcare Authority is rolling out a new campaign, ‘Starts With One’, to shed light on the possible dangers of opioid medications.
The Seattle Times Project Homeless team wants to hear from you. Join them for coffee Tuesday, March 26 from 7:45 to 9:00 a.m. at Project Homeless HQ, 6940 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The team wants to hear what you think about their reporting and discuss the topics they’re writing about. The event is open to all, but please RSVP.
The spike in deaths – caused by the synthetic opioid Fentanyl – rose from 29 deaths per 100,000 people in 1999 to 14.9.
The opioid epidemic has devastated America. It is now the leading cause of death in the U.S. for Americans under 55. How did we get here? “Getting hooked is nobody’s plan. Some turn to heroin because prescription painkillers are tough to get. Fentanyl, which is 50 times more potent than heroin, has snaked its way into other drugs like cocaine, Xanax and MDMA, widening the epidemic.” Check out this visual journey through addiction to better understand how opioids hijack the brains of our family and friends.
The Washington State Supreme Court struck down I-27 – the initiative seeking to ban safe injection sites in King County – citing an infringement on the county’s right to set its own budget. “The ruling opens the doors for the county to begin setting up consumption sites as part of its pilot program.”
U.S. life expectancy has decreased for the third year in a row according to the Centers for Disease Control. In 2017, there were more than 70,000 drug overdose deaths – the highest for any year recorded. The synthetic opioid Fentanyl remains the top killer of those abusing substances. But there is hope. Statisticians believe that 2018 could show the opioid crisis and overdose deaths leveling off thanks to medication-assisted treatment, the overdose-reversing antidote naloxone, and corralling deceptive pharmaceutical companies.
Will 2018 statistics prove a decrease in opioid-related deaths? Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar thinks so. “There’s solid evidence backing medication-assisted treatment, when used alongside counseling and ongoing support. He also noted much broader access to the overdose-reversing drug naloxone, and a documented decline in the number of people misusing prescription opioids as doctors take greater care in prescribing.”
One of the major opioid manufacturing companies accused of deceptively marketing their drugs – Purdue Pharma – is making a $3.4 million grant to produce the overdose-reversing drug naloxone. “Governments are asking for changes in how opioids are marketed, and for help paying for treatment and the costs of ambulance runs, child welfare systems, jails and other expenses associated with the opioid crisis.”
The money is part of an allocation of over $1 billion from the federal government to help stifle the opioid epidemic where overdose and substance abuse are highest.
Although more than 72,000 people died from overdoses last year, our current federal government wants to ban safe injections sites. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein believes the facilities do more harm than good. “This is not a disease that gets spread like the flu, people can only become addicted if they have access to these illegal drugs. If we can prevent that access, we can prevent the addiction.”
“The health district said the dramatic increase in reported overdoses may be due to doctors observing tighter guidelines on opioid prescriptions, leading their patients to turn to heroin or to illegal opioid vendors. The surge may also have been caused by improved data collection, officials said.”
“I thought it was just pills.” The phrase heard over and over again from family members of those who have overdosed. This @NPR story highlights what one journalist learned from years of researching the opioid epidemic.
“At a time of widespread anguish and hand-wringing about addiction, neither the president, nor Congress, nor governors, nor journalists are paying enough attention to the one thing that could truly make a difference: more and better treatment.” Medication-assisted treatment is too critical in addressing the opioid epidemic to be ignored.
ETS’ executive director, Molly Carney, was featured in this Seattle Weekly article on the barriers patients face trying to access medication-assisted treatment.
Through a federal program that places qualified doctors in under-served communities, Dr. Nicole Gastala found herself practicing family medicine in Marhsalltown,IA. She soon began her journey tackling the opioid epidemic in her new town and dealing with the bureaucracy and stigma that comes along with helping people begin their recovery from opioids.
Substance users on their journey to recovery face many challenges. One challenge they shouldn’t face is access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Currently, there are no approved opioid treatment programs west of the Puget Sound. Tad Sooter from the Kitsap Sun follows an ETS patient – Janine – on her commute by ferry and car to receive MAT.
Safe injection sites have long been a contentious idea in Seattle. A place where addicts can safely consume drugs under the guidance of medical professionals – a crazy idea to some, but others believe such sites can help tackle the opioid crisis.
America’s opioid epidemic is not a new one, but a revitalization of substance misuse catalyzed by doctors prescribing a profitable and effective drug. “What is striking is how, aside from some Victorian-era moralizing, they [those who overdose] feel so familiar to a 21st-century reader: Henderson developed an addiction at a vulnerable point in her life, found doctors who enabled it and then self-destructed. She was just one of thousands of Americans who lost their lives to addiction between the 1870s and the 1920s.”
ETS Executive Director Molly Carney was featured in Seattle Weekly for her knowledge around safe injection sites. “We believe the law is clear that public health decisions must be made by public health authorities in consultation with experts,” stated Carney as the safe injection site battle heads to the State Supreme Court.
The current opioid epidemic is the worst drug epidemic in U.S history. Epidemics have plagued countries across the 19th and 20th centuries and wars were fought over opium. The medical community is largely blamed for the epidemics that have affected populations over the years. Why have we not learned from our past?
“Medicines like methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone are used to help people who have addictions to opioids including heroin and fentanyl. The persistence of methadone and the emergence of buprenorphine as weapons in the battle against addiction is viewed with skepticism by supporters of strict abstinence from all narcotics.”
Governor Inslee signed into law a supplemental capital budget. ETS was awarded $3 million for increased behavioral health capacity.
A federal ban on mobile methadone clinics may be holding back proven medication-assisted treatment for those who are experiencing opioid addiction. Vans have the capability to reach the outskirts of cities to the most densely populated areas where an on-the-ground clinic is non-existent. ETS has federal grant money set aside to deploy four new vans, but until the DEA lifts the ban, the money and the medication lies dormant.
ETS’s REACH team pairs up with the Seattle Police Department to create the Navigation Team. This group of social workers and police officers work as a unit to help those experiencing homelessness and substance use get access to housing and critical resources.
People are dying at staggering rates from opioid overdose. If lawmakers want to seriously help put a dent in overdose deaths, they must support safe injection sites. The contentious sites provide the overdose drug, naloxone, sterile syringes, and services that help get users on the road to recovery. Data from sites around the world prove that these safe consumption spaces have a positive influence on getting users into treatment.
Safe injection sites violate U.S. Federal Law yet can save tens of thousands of lives across the United States. In the wake of the largest drug epidemic in U.S. history – far surpassing the AIDS epidemic – the U.S. must turn to innovative and radical ideas to halt this deadly epidemic. Safe injection sites attract the most marginalized populations of those who inject drugs, promote safe conditions for injecting, and open doors for those who are ready to seek healthcare – both mental and physical. These people already exist in our communities and these sites help them find the support they need to get into recovery. Cities like Vancouver and Sydney have already approved safe injection sites. The data surrounding these sites prove that there is no enhanced drug use or drug trafficking. So why are U.S. cities having such a hard time legalizing sites to help stifle the opioid epidemic? Stigma surrounding safe injection sites and public misconception are holding back lawmakers from approving said sites. This NYT article shows how Philadelphia is surpassing the bureaucracy and providing the needed help to substance users.
The stigma that exists around Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) hinders substance users from beginning their journey to recovery. Addiction is not synonymous to dependence on medication. Joe Thompson’s story serves as a harrowing example of how this type of stigma can be deadly towards those seeking treatment.
“We have a crisis on our hands — and the last half century we’ve been failing to solve it.” New York Times opinion contributors show how we’ve lost the war on drugs, and what to do next.
“‘For 100-plus years as a society, we’ve punished and criminalized people who use drugs.”
This has fostered an environment in which people who are addicted to drugs are seen not as victims of a disease who need help, as we would see, say, someone with cancer. Instead, they’re viewed as wrongdoers and perpetrators of their own illness.” Reporter German Lopez from Vox on the stigma of addiction.
Seattle and King County lawmakers have been grappling with the opioid crisis. Last year, over 300 people died of an overdose. A contentious idea – safe injection sites – exist in many places around the world. Many people wonder if the sites will help or hinder the substance user. “You can’t help a dead person”, states Michael Roberts, Victim’s Father & Co-Founder, Amber’s H.O.P.E. With Narcan, staff at the sites are able to revive those who overdose. REACH’s Co -Director Chloe Gale joins Seattle City Councilman Rob Johnson, Dr. Joe Merrill, and Gretchen Taylor of Neighborhood Safety Alliance of Seattle to discuss the pros and cons of safe injection sites.
Philanthropy and local government are changing the way substance abuse affect our families, neighbors, and friends. That moment when someone thinks, “I need to get help” is the “tiny window of opportunity,” says ETS Executive Director, Molly Carney. However, wait times can be detrimental towards the recovery process. “Currently, only five out of 29 local treatment agencies are able to consistently provide on-demand outpatient treatment for low-income clients.” Billionaire Steve and Connie Ballmer’s philanthropy and King County will soon be funding incentive payments for on-demand, outpatient treatment.
ETS Executive Director, Molly Carney, writes in the Seattle Times about Trump’s opioid crisis decision, “The problem is too overwhelming without increased support at the federal level. Had the president actually declared a national emergency, we would be better equipped to do more, right now.”
“According to Facing Addiction, one in three American households have a family member in active addiction, in recovery, or lost to an overdose.”Battling stigma is one of the many pillars to defeating addiction. By supporting those in recovery to speak up about their journey, one may inspire another to begin theirs to recovery.
“Had he declared a national emergency rather than a public health emergency, it would have immediately released federal money, which would have gone to drug treatment programs like King County’s Evergreen Treatment Services (ETS).”
At Evergreen Treatment Services we support safe injection sites. Public policy should be formed from data not stigma. “…safe injection sites, which would be supervised, could save addicts from overdosing while protecting the public from used needles.” Superior Court Judge Veronica Alicea Galvan ruled that Initiative 27 – which bans safe injection sites – extends beyond the scope of the initiative power.
In the midst of the opioid epidemic, the U.S. should look across the pond for strategies. “Portugal undertook a monumental experiment: It decriminalized the use of all drugs in 2001, even heroin and cocaine, and unleashed a major public health campaign to tackle addiction. Ever since in Portugal, drug addiction has been treated more as a medical challenge than as a criminal justice issue.” Portugal boasts the lowest drug-induced deaths statistics in Western Europe, a fraction of the 312 deaths per million people in the U.S., ages 15-64.
Until President Trump officially transmits his decision to Congress – signing it into national emergency status – millions of dollars to fight the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history will lie dormant. Simply saying the word “emergency” will not halt fatal opioid overdose any sooner.
In a new study, researchers found that a doctor’s medical school education may shape their opioid prescribing habits. Research compiled by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that doctors who studied at low-ranking medical schools prescribed 3x more opioids than those who studied at Harvard.
A lawsuit has been filed to overthrow I-27, which seeks to ban safe injection sites. The lawsuit purports that citizens do not have the right to weigh scientific evidence on a multi-faceted public health issue at the ballot box. “I-27 would set a dangerous precedent for public health. Supervised Consumption Spaces are an essential tool in fighting the opiate epidemic,” Dr. Bob Wood, former director of the HIV/AIDS Program at Public Health-Seattle & King County.
“Molly Carney and her team hope every day that their hard work is saving people’s lives.
Carney is executive director of Evergreen Treatment Services, a nonprofit that offers medication-assisted treatment for adults with opioid use disorders and operates the Reach team, which provides street-based case management and outreach services to more than 1,000 homeless adults with substance-use disorders in the greater Seattle area each year. Carney joined ETS in 2013 and has grown the treatment side of the organization from two clinics serving 1,400 adults a year in Washington to four clinics serving 3,000.”
Read the full interview by PSBJ’s Coral Garnick.
Rather than solely blame the victims of the opioid crisis, skeptics should look at the doctors, pharmacists, and politicians that allowed opioids to be disbursed at such an alarming rate. “This is an almost uniquely American crisis driven in good part by particular American issues from the influence of drug companies over medical policy to a “pill for every ill” culture.
“[The opioid epidemic] is a public health issue, with a very effective intervention,” ETS’s Molly Carney reacts on KOMO News to a recent University of Washington study showing a record number of drug-related deaths in 2016.
For heroin and other opioid addiction, the medication-assisted treatment that ETS provides has been proven to reduce overdose.
The opioid crisis is the worst drug crisis in the U.S. ever. How did we get here? Policymakers and the medical community must push agenda to reform how Americans view the opioid crisis.
The White House panel doing research on the opioid epidemic suggests Trump declare a state of emergency. “America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks.” Since 1999, the amount of overdoses in the U.S. has quadrupled.
“For every person who moves into a freshly minted affordable apartment, another one or two fall out.” This is the reality of the homelessness crisis in the Greater Seattle Area. In recent years, Seattle and King County have tried to fund affordable housing initiatives.”Despite the large investments, publicly subsidized affordable housing has not kept up. Which is where private-market landlords come into the picture.”
GOP lawmakers looking to repeal the Affordable Care Act face resistance from members in their party who come from regions hardest hit by the opioid epidemic. Medicaid currently pays for about 25 percent of all substance use treatment.
This map from the C.D.C. shows which counties have the highest opioid prescription rates. “The opioid prescription rate is not evenly distributed. […] Large swaths of the country had significantly higher rates of opioid prescriptions per capita in 2015, with particular hot spots being Northern California, Southern Nevada, Western Maine, and Tennessee.”
Our Seattle and South King County clinics are currently accepting patients. If you are in need of treatment please call the clinic nearest you to schedule an appointment, or if you are in Seattle we are accepting walk-ins (1700 Airport Way) on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings at 7:45am.
For more info on the intake procedures, check out the Intake page.
Your recovery can start today!
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s new opioid prescribing trend analysis shows that while the amount of opioids prescibed overall has dropped 18 percent between 2010 and 2015, the prescribing rate is still three times as high as the rate in 1999.
Parallels in misleading marketing and downplayed health risks between today’s prescription opioid market and the 1990 tobacco industry are evident, according to NPR.
In three major U.S. cities – Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco – librarians are learning how to use the overdose antidote naloxone as those with substance use disorders frequent library restrooms.
NPR’s Michel Martin speaks with Lynn Cooper, director of the Drug and Alcohol Division at Pennsylvania’s Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association, about the Senate GOP healthcare bill.
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson hosted a two-day opioid summit in Seattle and advocated for the medication-assisted treatment with medications like methadone paired with wraparound services like counseling as the optimal treatment for opioid addiction.
A coroner from Elizabethtown N.Y. discusses the most difficult part of his job with students, talking to the families of the victims of fatal overdose.
One clinic in Vancouver, BC is treating people with opioid use disorders with medical-grade heroin. “The idea is this: If some people are going to use heroin no matter what, it’s better to give them a safe source of the stuff and a safe place to inject it, rather than letting them pick it up on the street — laced with who knows what — and possibly overdose without medical supervision.”
New health data compiled from health agencies across the country reveal drug overdoes deaths in 2016 exceed 59,000, a record-breaking and heart-breaking statistic.
After Trump promised to resolve America’s opioid epidemic on the campaign trail, his recent budget which proposed cutting funds from addiction treatment, research, and prevention, has left families reeling from this crisis disappointed and angry.
Research confirms medication-assisted treatment (MAT) – with medications such as methadone and buprenorphine – is effective in preventing recurrence of use and overdose. Despite MAT skeptics, the American Society of Addiction Medicine recommends medication combined with counseling as the optimal treatment strategy for most patients.
Moving away from the argument that the opioid epidemic is being fueled by white working class despair and economic sluggishness, evidence points to changing drug markets and criminal networks as the real culprits.
Despite the campaign promise to end the opioid crisis, advocates say the administration seems to be furthering retrenchment on drug addiction, criminalizing addiction instead of finding lasting solutions.
Public restrooms have become a public safety and health concern as they are being used as a place for people to use heroin and other drugs. This radio feature highlights a user navigating Boston’s public restroom arena, a local business owner, and an addiction expert at Boston Medical Center to explore the challenges and propose solutions, one of which are safe consumption sites.
Canadian government extends permission to three Canadian cities – Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa – to set up safe injection sites; coordinator of the Toronto planned site explains why they’re necessary to fight the crisis on the ground.
“Amid a national catastrophe as serious as the opioid drug crisis, Trump lacks the knowledge and discipline to pursue the sorts of policies that would save more lives or do more good, even when the flaws of his alternative approach are glaringly obvious. The full consequences of his frustrating shortcomings may prove terrible, indeed.”
Research findings show that unlike the war on drugs, treatment for substance use disorders has a tangible impact on crime reduction. Counseling paired with medication, such as methadone or buprenorphine, has been shown to be the most cost-effective way to treat opioid use disorder. C.D.C. researcher Harold Pollack explained, “the economic value of crime reduction largely or totally offsets the cost of treatment.”
Lacey City Council approved a $250,000 community development grant to Evergreen Treatment Services to expand the South Sound Clinic. This is a reflection of the council’s acknowledgement of the growing opioid epidemic and their commitment to finding solutions.
This interactive charts allows readers to estimate how the opioid epidemic compares to other causes of death in the U.S., and then shows how close those estimations are to the real numbers.
In response to the growing opioid epidemic, Seattle lawmakers consider launching safe-consumption sites, allowing users to consume drugs under medical supervision.
NYT best-selling author, Maia Szalavitz advocates for addiction to be framed as a learning disorder and not as a moral failing, and she explains why forcing people into treatment won’t work.
Op-ed highlights the need to make progress against the opioid epidemic through economic integration and job creation efforts for rural, blighted communities in the U.S.
On this episode of the Seattle Time‘s The Overcast, we get a public-health and science perspective on safe consumption sites from Caleb Banta-Green, principal research scientist at the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute at the University of Washington.
Submit your questions regarding the heroin crisis, safe injection sites, and substance use disorder treatment to be discussed during KOMO’s televised town hall with former news anchor, Penny LeGate, Sen. Mark Miloscia, Caleb Banta-Green from the UW’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, and Snohomish Cty Sheriff Ty Trenary.
As annual death tolls from drug overdoses surpasses the number of deaths caused by AIDS during its peak in America, New York Magazine argues that the opioid epidemic has become today’s largest public health challenge.
New York models the actions needed nationwide to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic, and commits to an ambitious plan to cut overdose deaths and get people the treatment they need.
Seattle Channel weighs pros and cons of the Heroin and Opioid Task Force’s recommended safe consumption sites in Seattle.
Despite increasing evidence that almost half of fatal overdoses began with a doctor prescription of opioids, polls gathered from 3,000 participants show people aren’t shying away from the medications.
Survey compiled by Seattle human Services indicates most Seattle homeless are “homegrown” and large numbers are either former foster children or veterans, and nearly a quarter have attended college.
The opioid epidemic has hit Utah hard – a state already struggling with a lack of health care– so the Syringe Exchange has stepped in to help prevent fatal overdoses by giving people what they need to inject drugs safely. People bring their dirty syringes and exchange are provided with clean syringes, tourniquets, alcohol swabs, first aid kits, and if possible, the overdose antidote naloxone.
Sam Quinones, author of the book Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic, writes for the New York Times on how walls can stop people, but do not stop drugs.
Evergreen Treatment Services’s Michelle Peavey weighs in on the value of medication assisted treatment with other professionals at a summit in Kingston on February 4.
Seattle and King County move towards creating nation’s first safe drug sites to combat the opioid crisis based on the Herion and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force’s recommendation.
King County Board of Health unanimously voted to support the task force on heroin’s recommendation of opening safe drug consumption sites.
The New York Times covers LEAD’s harm reduction approach toward people, like Roland Vasquez, who are caught in the cycle of incarceration. Vasquez describes his struggle with substance use and LEAD’s role in keeping him in treatment and rebuilding his life and relationships.
This special radio documentary covers life in “the Jungle” – a homeless encampment under Seattle’s I-5 freeway.
MTV teams up with multi-platinum artist Macklemore to go inside America’s opioid epidemic, meeting those living with addiction and heading to Washington DC for an exclusive talk with President Obama on this important issue. Watch now!
We are opening a new clinic in South King County. Listen to Executive Director, Molly Carney discuss the need for treatment in this area with Emily Fox.
PBS Frontline’s documentary “Chasing Heroin” covers the heroin epidemic in Western Washington and the various efforts to treat and manage this public health crisis.
Northwest Now, a production of KBTC Tacoma interviews Molly Carney, ETS executive director, Caleb Banta-Green of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute at the UW, and former TV journalist Penny LeGate who tragically lost her daughter to heroin overdose.
The Daily World in Hoquiam discusses the best treatment options for inmates with opioid use disorders.
ETS Executive Director, Molly Carney, speaks with Mark Wright of King 5 about the heroin epidemic and available treatment options.
We are launching a new program to get treatment to rural areas of Western Washington where the heroin epidemic is hitting people hard. Learn more in this interview between Molly Carney, Executive Director of ETS, and Ross Reynolds on KUOW’s The Record.