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Needle Clean-Up Kits and Resource Awareness

  • Written by David B. Clark

Drug overdose deaths continue to increase across the nation. In King and Snohomish Counties, the scourge of America’s opioid epidemic is hitting hard, fast, and causing countless problems for the community. Public Health – Seattle and King County and the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute both published reports on May 9 that stated that King County lost 379 residents to drugs or alcohol in 2017; an increase of 31 from 348 in 2016. The Snohomish Health District reported that, “Snohomish County experiences around 18% of all heroin-related deaths in Washington although the county comprises only 10% of the state’s population.”

While these stats are devastating, there are progressive practices and standards that are being set by some of the counties’ leaders. Sheriff of Snohomish County Ty Trenary has been setting the standard in the district since 2013. Trenary has been moving things forward. Trenary stated, ”We cannot arrest our way out of the opioid epidemic.  In the end, it will take leadership, collaborative partnerships, communication, accountability, and trust to overcome Snohomish County’s opioid epidemic and the terrible impact it has on our communities.” Trenary represents Law Enforcement in the Opioid Response Multi-Agency Coordination (MAC) Group and has aided the structure and design of Snohomish County’s first Diversion Center. Trenary knows that individuals struggling with addiction need help but he also is well aware that his community needs assistance dealing with this widespread problem. 

In autumn 2017, Snohomish County rolled out their free needle clean-up kit program. The program states, “…used needles can spread diseases like Hepatitis C through accidental needle pokes. While the risk of contracting a disease from a needle-stick injury is very low, you can further reduce that risk by using the right equipment and procedures.” Because of this program, over 10,000 syringes have been safely and properly disposed. The kits include: instructions on how to safely remove the dangerous paraphernalia, a “sharps” container (a hard, plastic container used to dispose of hypodermic needles), thick gloves, safety glasses, tongs, and hand sanitizer.

While the needles themselves are problematic for residents and businesses, the ability and ease to procure the “opioid rescue kit” Naloxone, commonly referred to by the leading product’s name, Narcan, is easier than ever. This medication allows anyone the ability to potentially save someone’s life whom is overdosing on opioids. Bellegrove Pharmacy (18800 142nd Avenue NE #4B) and Costco Pharmacy (24008 Woodinville Snohomish Rd) in Woodinville stocks the life-saving medication as does Duvall Family Drugs (15602 Main St NE) in Duvall. More than 100 lives have been saved in Snohomish County

Nationally, heroin addiction has significantly increased in adults aged 18-25. King County reported, “Overdose disproportionately affects young people, men, people experiencing homelessness, and certain racial and ethnic minorities. Half of all overdose deaths in 2017 were less than 46 years old and 17% were among persons experiencing homelessness.” This prompts the need for a boosted level of awareness but also education at earlier ages. The city of Duvall has structured the drug education of their youth through the familiar program, D.A.R.E. Cory Clark, who is also a School Resource Officer, serves as Duvall’s D.A.R.E. officer. Their statement reads, “Our D.A.R.E. officers are committed to the schools in an effort to establish a relationship with each student and to let them know police officers are resources to our community and should be looked to for help and not be feared.”

For more information on Snohomish Overdose Prevention, please visit http://snohomishoverdose prevention.com/

For a thorough list of agencies that kits can be picked up or dropped off at, please visit http://snohomishoverdose prevention.com/clean-up/

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