New Programs to Fight Pierce County’s Opioid Epidemic

New Programs to Fight Pierce County’s Opioid Epidemic

Delivering the right service, at the right time, in the right place.

– Derek Young, Pierce County Council

Consciously and unconsciously, we build barriers to recovery for people with substance use disorders. When surveyed, 70% of people suffering from addiction say they’d like to get treatment but have trouble navigating these obstacles. Whether it’s the capacity of the system, insurance, transportation, or stigma, we formed the Opioid Task Force to break down those barriers.

When people raise their hand and say they need help, we can’t miss the opportunity.

That’s why I’m thrilled by a trio of new programs just launched here in Pierce County. Meds First, a partnership between the Dave Purchase Project (formerly Tacoma Needle Exchange) and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, offers same-day treatment initiation and wraparound services to needle exchange clients.

Tacoma Fire is offering a similar process through their TFD Cares program as well as beginning a “Safe Station” pilot offering walk-in service.

I’m so proud of our team for getting this done. When the idea first came up, it seemed impossible to imagine how it would get done. But thanks to their passion for the work, we’re going to see lives saved and more people in recovery.

We’re also lucky to have support from:

  • University of Washington–Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute
  • Paul G. Allen Foundation
  • Washington State Healthcare Authority
  • Seattle Foundation
  • Premera Blue Cross
  • AIMS Center (Advancing Integrated Mental Health Solutions)

We still have a long way to go. These programs need to scale up significantly to meet demand. We also have to make sure housing is available. The daily trauma of the street makes recovery far more difficult. We also need to find resources for more drug counselors, care navigators, and prescribers.

But it all starts with that first step. After that, anything is possible.