April 20, 2018

Greater Columbia Accountable Community of Health to Address Opioid Crisis

Elise Haas

TRI-CITIES, Wash. – The Greater Columbia Accountable Community of health is addressing the opioid crisis at their public meeting.

Attendees will learn about current opioid abuse in Benton and Franklin counties and about the positive moves our community is making to eliminate the epidemic.

"The rate of opioid abuse is much higher than people realize," said Wes Luckey, deputy director the Greater Columbia ACH.

Opioid abuse here at home is more than the state average, according to the Washington State Department of Health.

"Benton County also has an issue with prescribing high-risk and high-dose opioids,” Luckey said. “So it's something we're trying to address through our program."

We've reached this crisis, Luckey said, because when opioids came out their benefits were exaggerated, and the risks were understated.

"It's only a few years after a lot of prescriptions have been written that the full consequence of taking those medications turns to reality," he explained.

On Thursday, Luckey’s inviting providers and the community to learn about ways they can prevent and help people suffering with opioid addiction.

"A lot of what we want to do is educate providers about thinking twice when writing a very large prescription for a very addictive medication," he said.

Presenters will also teach providers about the prescription monitoring database and coordination of care for their patients.

Doctors said they'll explain how the progressive initiatives, like the upcoming syringe exchange program in Pasco will have benefits to the community; such as preventing the spread of HIV and Hep C, reducing the number of discarded needles in public places, and getting services to people suffering with addiction.

"People who use syringe exchange programs are actually more likely to seek treatment then people who don’t," Dr. Amy Person said, of the Benton Franklin Health District.

Knowledge is power and public health experts said wisdom will help overcome the opioid crisis in our counties.

The Leadership Council Meeting will be located at Columbia Basin College, Room L102 from 9:00 AM – 11:30 AM. For more information on the meeting, visit their website.