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Forums focus on opioid addiction

Snohomish County Human Services and Snohomish Health District host discussions on heroin epidemic


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The flyer for the heroin and opioid forums hosted by the Snohomish Health District and Snohomish County Human Services.

With heroin and opioid problems continuing across the nation, Snohomish County officials are hosting discussions on the issues in Tulalip, Arlington and two other Snohomish County locations this September.

On Sept. 20, at 6:30 p.m., a discussion will be held in the Orca Room at the Tulalip Resort and Casino at 10200 Quil Ceda Blvd.

In Arlington at the Byrnes Performing Arts Center at 6 p.m. another discussion will be held on Sept. 27. The center is located at Arlington High School at 18821 Crown Ridge Blvd.

There will be additional discussions at Cavalero Middle School at Lake Stevens on Sept. 15 and at Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood on Oct. 13.

The discussion forums are hosted by the Snohomish Health District and the Snohomish County Human Services, who are working with the local communities.

"Many communities are experiencing issues with heroin, and there's a general want to do something about it," said Heather Thomas, public and government affairs manager for the Snohomish Health District.

"People want to know what the solutions are, and there's not just going to be one. You have to take a multi-pronged approach," she said.

The idea for the discussion forums started after the Health District was invited to drug abuse resource fairs in Mukilteo and the town of Snohomish earlier this year.

After those fairs, "other cities had wanted us to bring similar programs to them," said Thomas.

"We couldn't go to every city, but the idea was to have these regional forums and have the community come to us," she said.

A panel of local experts at each forum will talk about heroin and opioids, a history of the epidemic, the physical response to opioids, addiction versus dependence, local treatment options, the barriers the county has for treatment and what is being done to fight the epidemic currently.

A Q-and-A session will also be held for those wanting to ask questions.

Each of the local communities are inviting personal speakers such as "family members of someone who has overdosed or someone who has gone through addiction," said Thomas.

The Health District hopes to get a local who was affected directly for each of the forums and is currently finalizing details on some of their invited speakers.

Part of the idea with the discussion forums was to discuss the actual effects of heroin.

"The impacts of heroin and opioids on the body are different than any other drug," said Thomas.

Thomas said that people want to understand the epidemic and the discussion forums are meant to give a resource for that.

"I saw a genuine interest from the community, and from a number of different angles. A lot of people wanted to know what they could do to help, either in the community or with helping a friend whose child may be going through these problems," she said.

At the end of each forum there will also be a 15- to 20-minute demonstration on how to use naloxone, which is a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and is potentially live-saving if used in the right circumstances.

More information about the heroin epidemic and the Snohomish Health District is available at


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