Tacoma-Pierce County Opioid Task Force

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. 1) Prevention/education
  2. 2) Access to treatment
  3. 3) The Right Services

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.

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.

Opioid Timeline
Aug 2017
Pierce County Council sends letter to Gov. Inslee declaring Pierce County in a state of opioid crisis.
Oct 2017
Pierce County Council adopts resolution declaring a state of opioid crisis in Pierce County.
Feb 2018
 City of Tacoma/ Pierce County Opioid Task Force convened a community summit on the opioid epidemic to get input for an action plan.  Watch summary of summit here
Feb 2018
Pierce County joined the federal lawsuit against opioid manufacturers Purdue, Endo, and Janssen, linking their marketing campaign to the opiate crisis.
May 2018
Tacoma and Pierce County expanded their federal lawsuit to include the three largest wholesale distributors of prescription opioids, Cardinal Health, McKesson, and Amerisource-Bergen.
Grant Initiatives and Awards

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Opioid Treatment Network Expansion (2018) The Tacoma Fire Department has been awarded $450,000 for a pilot project to expand the rule of TFD CARES in combating opioid addiction in our community.  This funding is provided through HCA.  Details of the pilot project are still being developed with the State; however the funding will allow TFD to provide mobile outreach by a nurse practitioner or other medical professional with authority to provide a more comprehensive on-scene assessment of clinical needs for people suffering from opioid addiction. 
download (1)Substance Use Prevention and Education (2018) Safe Streets has been awarded $60,000 in funding for substance abuse prevention.  This funding is provided through HCA.  The focus of this grant is high need communities with elevated rates of underage drinking, marijuana use, and youth opioid misuse and abuse.  The high schools Safe Streets will focus on are Lincoln, Mt Tahoma, Stadium and Wilson. 
download (1)Help Me Grow Pierce County Initiative (2018)  The Help Me Grow Initiative is a pilot program to reduce the overall number of dependency cases and infants born with neonatal abstinence syndrome in Pierce County.  The Washington State legislature ($250,000) and the National Association of Counties/Pritzker Foundation ($25,000) provided funding to assist with planning or the Help Me Grow framework of Pierce County.
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National League of Cities Mayors' Institute on Opioids (2018)  The City of Tacoma was chosen as one of six cities nationally to participate in the NLC's first ever Mayors' Institute on Opioids.  As part of being chosen, technical assistance and support is being provided to the opioid task force by NLC's and John Hopkins University research staff. 

Things To Know

Task Force Contact Information

To learn more about the opioid task force, or to become involved, please contact Jason Escareno:

Jason Escareno
Pierce County Council                                                                                                253-798-7761       

If you need information on prevention or services, please contact Pierce County Human Services, or phone 211.                                  


Pierce County Opioid Summit 2019
Friday, February 22, 2019
9:00 am - 3:00 pm

Chris Knutsen Hall
Pacific Lutheran University
12180 Park Ave S
Tacoma, WA  98477

Driving Directions

Meeting Materials


Meeting Materials

Past Meeting Minutes and Materials