21. September 2023 · Comments Off on Ag and Rural Caucus -September 2023 Policy Series · Categories: Committee News, Recent Events

ARC Policy Series

6:30 pm Thursday 21 September
Policy Series

Opioids in Rural Washington
Kris Shera, State Opioid Coordinator; Health Care Admiinistration
Dr. Steven Krager, Health Officer, Cowlitz, Skamania, Wahkiakum, Pacific counties

Mental Health and Drug Use

Yesterday I heard numbers from my county’s Community Health Needs Assessment. Twenty-two (22) percent of Walla Walla’s 10th graders considered suicide in the last year, 10 percent used illicit drugs in the last thirty days, and 2.5 percent used an opioid painkiller to get high in the last thirty days.

Getting high, at least from painkillers, is not the point for most of our sophomores. Dealing with personal demons maybe is. A guess from a local therapist is that there is an 80 percent overlap between mental illness and drug abuse. What does this do to our mental picture of drug abusers? Did Pogo have it right, “we have met the enemy and he is us”?

Join us tomorrow to find how far the numbers take us.

20 September 2023

Oxycodone v. Fentanyl: Just more of the Same?

The Washington Post last week had an interactive map showing the number of prescription pills distributed 2006-2019 per capita by county. The highest in Washington were at each of our four “poles”: Asotin, Pend Oreille, Clallam, and Pacific. All rural, sparsely populated counties.

It seems quaint to talk about prescription pain-killers. More dramatic headlines are about traces of fentanyl in recovered stolen cars, fentanyl and methamphetamine residues in transit cars, a child in day care succumbing to fentanyl…you read the same news.

Join us Thursday to talk about the numbers. Did the high per capita pain pill distribution to rural counties translate to overdose deaths? Did they put us on the road to disproportionate SUD (substance use disorder) in rural counties? What about meth and fentanyl? Are AP headlines descriptive of what we are seeing in our communities?

18 September 2023

Fentanyl kills…but us?

“Fentanyl’s effects are fast and dangerous…It’s linked to more fatalities under age 50 in the country than any other cause of death, including heart disease, cancer and suicide” (Seattle Times, 4 Sept 2023).

We want to distance ourselves from headlines about drug deaths. We may try to discount dramatic reports of drug overdose deaths as scare tactics for political or commercial gain. Or, we stereotype substance users – they are not like us – so we can shake our head and move on to the article on cryptocurrency. Or, we use the story as one more hit on life on Seattle and Tacoma streets.

What may slow our distancing from drug overdose deaths is the comparison to “heart disease, cancer, and suicide.” Deaths from these factors are very real in our rural communities, and in our families. What makes us think that we in rural Washington are somehow insulated from drug fatalities?

Our policy briefing on the 21nd is drug use and overdose fatalities in rural Washington. Kris Shera from the Health Care Administration will give us an overview of drug overdose data across the state. Steven Krager is the health officer for much of the rural southwest of the state. He will drill down on drug use disorder in the communities where we live.

Come to listen and learn. And to share. Join your observations and your heart to make sure we don’t use dispassionate data to distance ourselves from the real life effects of drug use disorder.

4 September 2023

Our Better Practices roundtable is on the first Thursday of each month at 6:30 pm.. Use the link above for 2023.

Our Policy Series is on the third Thursday of each month at 6:30 pm. Use the link above for 2023. 

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Ag and Rural Caucus of State Democratic Central Committee
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