In 2017, Pierce County Councilmember Derek Young and Tacoma City Councilmember Conor McCarthy convened representatives from multiple sectors as the Pierce County Opioid Task Force. The Pierce County Council declared a “State of Opioid Crisis,” which paralleled a Presidential declaration, and sent a letter to Governor Jay Inslee urging him to declare Pierce County in a state of emergency. The City of Tacoma filed a lawsuit in 2017 against three opioid manufacturers and the county followed suit in early 2018.
The Pierce County Opioid Task Force action plan focuses on wellness and the whole spectrum of prevention in its three domains:
1. Prevention/education: The initial efforts will focus on students and the family and community around them. They will encompass media and social marketing campaigns and community education.
- Implement/expand evidence-based health-risk behavior (including substance abuse) school programs.
- Conduct education, outreach, and social marketing to parents and community members to create positive norms and behaviors.
2. Access to treatment: Increase access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in clinical, community-based, and criminal justice settings.
- Train and increase the prescription of buprenorphine (Suboxone) by primary care providers.
- Increase methadone treatment facilities, especially beyond the metropolitan core.
- Implement innovative, alternative delivery practices, such as:
- Mobile MAT
- MAT at Needle Exchange
- Initiate MAT in jail or emergency room
3. Ensuring “the right services at the right time”: Diversion away from inappropriate and expensive systems (i.e., Criminal Justice system, emergency rooms); ensure people receive the appropriate medical, behavioral, and social services they need.
- Expand TFD CARES (Community, Assistance, Referral, and Education Service).
- Expand drug courts, mental health courts.
- Train and implement Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) in:
ii. Medical clinics
iii. First responders
iv. Referral centers (e.g., 211, Coordinated Entry for homeless, veterans’ services)
- Establish a diversion center with referral to services and treatment that will provide pre-arrest diversion.
- Expand Mobile Community Intervention Response Team (MCIRT).
- Create best practices and referral systems to addictions specialists and substance abuse treatment providers throughout the county.
As the County-City Task Force continues to refine and implement the action plan, it will improve health, raise awareness, reduce stigma, and address many of the barriers identified in Section I. Participation in the NLC Mayors Institute is timely in give us guidance on how to: Create an effective regional strategy to respond to the opioid epidemic and Shift from tertiary prevention to wellness and primary and secondary prevention.
The City of Tacoma, Pierce County, and our partners are ready to move forward.
Things To Know
To learn more about the opioid task force, or to become involved, please contact Jason Escareno:
If you need information on prevention or services, please contact Pierce County Human Services, or phone 211.
Pierce County Opioid Summit 2019
Chris Knutsen Hall