America’s homelessness problem has the makings of an acute crisis. Shelters across the U.S. are reporting a surge in people looking for help, with wait lists doubling or tripling in recent months. The number of homeless people outside of shelters is also probably rising, experts say. Some of them live in encampments, which have popped up in parks and other public spaces in major cities from Washington, D.C., to Seattle since the pandemic began. Read more.
ETS NEWS AND MEDIA COVERAGE
Recent national and local media coverage of Evergreen Treatment Services and our REACH and Clinic Services teams. Stay informed about efforts to address the drug epidemic, housing crisis, and issues around community justice.
Much of the low-income and public housing in Seattle is older, made of concrete or brick, and lacks air conditioning. After four days of temperatures reaching 90-plus degrees, some people who live in the affordable housing building, Pacific Apartments in Pioneer Square, and the outdoors are feeling the impact. They have fewer means to escape the effects of extreme heat and are more likely to have weakened immune systems. Read more.
Seattle is expected to see unusually high temperatures, rising above 90 degrees on Tuesday and Wednesday. In anticipation of the heat wave, King County’s Regional Homelessness Authority is opening indoor daytime cooling spaces in addition to the daytime and overnight shelters that are usually open. Read more.
Overdose death rates in the U.S. increased dramatically in 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic arrived, especially among Black, American Indian and Alaska Native individuals, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as deadly synthetic opioids flooded the nation and access to treatment remained elusive for millions of Americans. Read more.
On July 13, the King County Road Services Division will begin clearing garbage and debris that has accumulated on a section of Green River Road between Kent and Auburn in unincorporated King County. This comes after a recent three-day effort by King County, the King County Regional Homelessness Authority, and non-profits, including the Salvation Army, REACH, and Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, ending on Saturday, to reduce the number of individuals experiencing homelessness living at the encampment and connect them with shelter and services. Read more.
This is a tension that’s playing out across West Coast cities, as the combination of a mental health crisis and a decade long real estate boom have created a new, especially vulnerable, especially visible generation of the unhoused. They’re “unsheltered,” meaning they live in cars, tents and makeshift shelters on the streets, rather than in shelters. Over the decade between 2009 and 2019, unsheltered homelessness continued to grow in California, Oregon and Washington, even as it declined in major cities outside the West Coast. And as the unsheltered increasingly live on streets in residential neighborhoods, their new neighbors have turned to one place for help in particular: the police. Read more.
The particulars have changed, as has its center of gravity: First Avenue to Second to Third. Its name also shifts, depending on who’s talking about which decade. Old-timers recalling the 1960s say “Skid Row.” Needle-exchange workers from the ’80s talk about “Penney’s Corner” (after a nearby JCPenney). To Deputy Seattle City Attorney Scott Lindsay, it’s “3P” (for Third and Pike/Pine). In 1990, an article about crack cocaine by Seattle Weekly writer Eric Scigliano reported that dealers were calling it “The Blade.” That name stuck.
Whatever you call it, the overall milieu has tremendous sticking power — despite gentrification and repeated police interventions. Read more.
Local legal aid attorneys say bureaucratic roadblocks and unnecessary delays cost the county badly needed resources — and in some cases cost Yakima tenants their homes. Read more.
With a $2.5 million National Institutes of Health grant, researchers at the University of Washington will explore one of the most important questions related to this emergency policy change: whether those changes helped with another opioid-related crisis: the unequal access experienced by Black and Latinx patients to buprenorphine. Read more.
On a recent Friday, Soledad Brown, a volunteer at the Rainier Valley Food Bank, was grateful for a day without rain. A line of 30 or 40 people wound around the building and into the parking lot as customers waited for bags of groceries. “Yesterday I got drenched,” Brown said. “I always try to brighten everyone’s day.”
A former client of the South Seattle food bank, Brown has been an energetic presence here for three years. She takes two buses and the light rail from Des Moines every weekday to help distribute food and make patrons feel welcome. Brown said she has noticed that demand for food hasn’t declined this year. Even as businesses reopen, and the state’s unemployment level is back down near 4%, the need for food assistance remains high. Read more.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is working to make it easier for people with a criminal record to find housing – a move that could have widespread implications for nearly 1 in 3 Americans.
In a memo sent out to staff on Tuesday, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge instructed the department to review programs and policies that may “pose barriers to housing for persons with criminal histories or their families.”
Fudge told staffers they have six months to propose updates and amendments consistent with the directive to “make our policies as inclusive as possible.” Among the many things HUD staffers will be looking into are guidance documents, model leases and other agreements.
Some federal laws ban people convicted of certain crimes from accessing publicly funded housing programs, including anyone convicted of methamphetamine production on the premises of federally assisted housing, lifetime registered sex offenders and people convicted of drug possession. Read more.
Injection drug use across the United States is increasing as the misuse of prescription and synthetic opioids rages on.
Many people who misuse drugs choose to inject because it delivers a faster, more intense high. But this method of delivering drugs into the body, particularly for people who share needles or syringes, also comes with an increased risk of transmitting bloodborne diseases like hepatitis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
According to the CDC, sharing syringes is the second-riskiest behavior for contracting HIV. Injection drug use is the most common way that hepatitis C is transmitted, and infection rates have been increasing, especially among younger populations. More than 40% of people between the ages of 18 and 29 have reported sharing syringes, and according to the most recent report from the CDC, hepatitis C infections were highest among people in this same age bracket, peaking at age 29.
To help slow the spread of injection-related infectious diseases, many states have implemented syringe service programs (SSPs), also referred to as syringe or needle exchange programs. These programs offer safe disposal of used syringes, access to sterile needles and syringes, vaccination and testing, and substance use treatment resources. Read more.
For more than 25 years, Dwight struggled with cocaine use. In 2013, after repeated offenses, a police officer referred him to Seattle’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program, saying, “I have an amazing program that’s going to support you.”
LEAD is a unique coalition of law enforcement agencies, behavioral health providers, prosecutorial partners and community groups. In LEAD, Dwight decided he wanted to stop using. He was referred to a case manager at REACH, an arm of Evergreen Treatment Services. REACH’s team of social workers, nurses, chemical dependency specialists and case managers builds relationships with people experiencing homelessness. Read more.
SEATTLE — Now a licensed clinician and recovery advocate, Marcos Sauri embarked on his own recovery journey years ago. On the other side of addiction, Sauri is driven to help everyone he can find hope for their own futures.
“I was a heroin addict, and at a young age I knew I had a problem and I had an opportunity to be given a second chance,” Sauri said. “Not by my choice, but I ended up at a place where they gave me the help and I never left. I volunteered, they sent me to school, it wasn’t my choice that I wanted to be in the business, in the field, but’s how I ended up here.”
Sauri said most people don’t understand that it’s not always as easy as waking up and choosing to stop using. Read more.
A deepening opioid epidemic is prompting the U.S. Department of Justice to warn about discrimination against those who are prescribed medication to treat their addictions.
In guidelines published Tuesday, the department’s Civil Rights Division said employers, health care providers, law enforcement agencies that operate jails and others are violating the Americans with Disabilities Act if they discriminate against people for taking prescription drugs to treat opioid use disorder. Read more.
In February, the City of Seattle and the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) announced a joint initiative with a collection of local businesses to stand up a new program known as “Partnership for Zero,” created to provide end-to-end outreach to people in downtown homeless camps. Just a month later, though, there’s been a significant divide between the city and the KCRHA’s shorter term priorities as the pace of encampment clearances has accelerated. Read more.
Seattle’s HOPE Team, the homeless outreach arm for the city’s Human Services Department (HSD), saw a significant increase in the number of shelter referrals and enrollments in 2021 compared to 2020.
However, despite the improvements, the team saw fewer than half of those referrals turn into enrollments. Read more.
Catholic Community Services will work with Plymouth Housing, Downtown Emergency Services Center (DESC), Chief Seattle Club, Evergreen Treatment Services REACH program and Mary’s Place to connect individuals who are homeless and already living in hotels throughout South King County with the college. Once enrolled at Highline, students will be able to earn the certificate in one to three quarters. The certificate is a combination of Human Services and Hospitality & Tourism Management courses that prepare students to work in hotels that do and do not serve those without permanent housing. Read more here.
Amazon, Starbucks, Microsoft Philanthropies, billionaires Steve and Connie Ballmer, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a host of other corporations and philanthropists announced Thursday they intend to spend more than $10 million in an effort to dramatically decrease homelessness downtown and in the Chinatown International District. Read more here.
Drug overdoses now kill more than 100,000 Americans a year — more than vehicle crash and gun deaths combined. Sean Blake was among those who died. He overdosed at age 27 in Vermont, from a mix of alcohol and fentanyl, a synthetic opioid. He had struggled to find effective treatment for his addiction and other potential mental health problems, repeatedly relapsing. Read more here.
As California grapples with a massive shortage of behavioral healthcare workers, state lawmakers want to offer financial incentives in hopes of bringing in and retaining more professionals to improve access to mental health services in the state. Read more here.
Public Health couldn’t staff every room in the hotels and the bar to get into one of the beds rose. Staff at homeless nonprofits, who’d struggled in the past to get people into isolation and quarantine, found it even harder. Some said they spent hours trying to get one or two people into isolation and quarantine rooms, to no avail.
“I count out I and Q. That’s not even an option,” said Dawn Whitson, a system coordinator for Evergreen Treatment Services’ homeless outreach arm, in mid-January. “I won’t waste my time with it until I hear something back from Public Health [about the guidelines]. They’re very time-consuming and I won’t even try.” Read more here.
The new government agency in charge of Seattle and King County’s regional homeless response is finally up and running. But the King County Regional Homelessness Authority doesn’t plan to simply streamline business as usual. It’s bringing a new philosophical and practical approach to homeless service work that will affect everyone from the cities involved to service providers to people on the street. And that change is making some people nervous. Read more here.
Earlier this week, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announced that he will issue an Executive Order to extend Seattle’s residential eviction moratorium and small business and non-profit commercial tenant eviction moratorium for an additional 30 days until February 14. Read more here.
Clinical Advisor highlights Jim Anderson, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA, a PA of 21 years who works at Evergreen Treatment Services Opioid Treatment Program, Seattle, WA. Anderson is the current president of the AAPA Society of PAs in Addiction Medicine and also holds the commissioner position on the Washington State Medical Commission. Read more here.
Councilmember Dan Strauss (District 6 – Northwest Seattle) and a coalition of homelessness service providers (including REACH), city officials, business leaders and others highlight their successful work to offer people residing at Ballard Commons Park appropriate shelter and a path towards permanent housing.
Since August, Councilmember Strauss has worked to bring together a host of community members, city departments, and service providers to coordinate a robust response that ensured people living in the park were offered the support they needed, including 24/7 enhanced shelter with wraparound onsite services like case management and housing navigation. Learn more here.
Seattle is trying to improve public safety by changing its approach, in the aftermath of calls for police reform and racial justice. From moving its 911 call center to a new department to creating new behavioral health teams, the city is investing in community-centered solutions in its crisis response. Staffing shortages and a social services system that’s overwhelmed are making the new effort challenging. Learn more here.
“Methadone is totally unrestricted in its use for pain, which is completely backward as most of the morbidity and mortality from methadone comes from very uninformed prescribing for pain,” commented Jim Anderson, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA, an addiction medicine expert who works at Evergreen Treatment Services Opioid Treatment Program in Seattle. The stigma drives the restrictiveness of methadone prescription for the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD) “is indeed a reflection of the discriminatory and prejudicial beliefs about both OUD patients and OUD clinics,” he said. Read more here.
“People don’t identify themselves as being vulnerable to some severe weather situations that we may see coming up,” said Chloe Gale, co-director of the outreach program REACH. “It takes some time and effort to help them figure out what are they really going to want.” Read more here.
Febben Fekadu, housing director at nonprofit Evergreen Treatment Services and its REACH outreach program, said her organization is dealing with similar issues. It’s difficult to get paperwork in order for clients living outdoors in tents and in vehicles. “A lot of social services are operating under capacity right now,” Fekadu added. Read more here.
This major reduction in cases is thanks to King County’s early investment in an extensive free vaccination program and help from community partners, including Harborview Medical Center, VA Puget Sound, community clinics, Evergreen Treatment Services’ REACH program, Operation Nightwatch, and Downtown Emergency Services Center. Read more here.
“We’re like a family,” he said. “We depend on each other.”
Yvonne Nelson, the outreach worker who offered Jordan and his friends shelter, doesn’t blame them for their reluctance. Sometimes all Nelson can do is offer whatever shelter space happens to be available on the day. The abrupt timeline of the I-90 encampment clearing, which was announced only two days beforehand, didn’t give her the time to find accommodations that better fit the encampment’s needs. Read more here.
Redmond Mayor Angela Birney on Wednesday defended her support of a controversial plan by King County to transform a former motel into a homeless shelter despite objections from some residents who have expressed concern about how it will affect the neighborhood. In an interview with KOMO News, Birney, who is also a member of the King County Regional Homelessness Authority, said she is fully behind the project at the former Silver Cloud Inn. Read more here.
Q2 data shows the most shelter referrals and enrollments ever recorded by the Human Services Department…. “The HOPE Team has made tremendous strides standing up this new model and approach to supporting those living unsheltered in Seattle,” Tess Colby, HSD’s Interim Deputy Director on Homelessness, writes in the report. “Their collaborative efforts with outreach and shelter providers, City departments and community, have resulted in hundreds of people moving from encampments to safer spaces and on a pathway to ending their experience of homelessness.” Read more here.
As Burien residents, workers and friends, we are concerned about the misconceptions of some of our fellow neighbors and some candidates for Burien City Council who stand against supportive housing for our most needy community, those in the 0-30% AMI (Area Median Income) range. Read more here.
Homeless service providers say the suspension of the rule had positive effects for vehicle residents, who didn’t have to deal with the daily stress of finding another place to park. “It was nice for them to have a reprieve where they didn’t have to move every 72 hours, where they could be in place and connect to service providers from one location and get more accomplished,” said Rebecca Gilley, the SoDo outreach coordinator for the homeless outreach group REACH. Read more here.
One of the 13 people who died is presumed to have been homeless, according Public Health.
That 11% likely undersells just how precarious the situation was for people without stable housing, outreach workers say. Becky Gilley normally does outreach to eight large encampments in the SoDo area with REACH, but she was able to visit only one and a half during the heat wave. What she saw were people pouring sweat, so much so that she suspected widespread heat exhaustion. Read more here.
Councilmember Andrew J. Lewis (District 7 – Pioneer Square to Magnolia), service providers and members from the business community announced the publication of a University of Washington study demonstrating the effectiveness of the JustCARE model, and provided a tangible example of how 33 individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness on 3rd Avenue downtown were connected with appropriate shelter by JustCARE and voluntarily accepted. Read more here.
The treatment system has never been particularly helpful to people grappling with mental illness, addiction and homelessness, but the shift to telemedicine and virtual treatment has laid bare that divide, according to Kim Powers, a referral coordinator at Evergreen Treatment Services’ homeless outreach arm, who has worked in the system for more than 20 years.
“If you’re living homeless, you may have to move. You may have changed your mind. You may decide that treatment isn’t right for you right now,” Powers said. “So to be able to capture them at the moment they want help is not the way the system is set up.” Read more here.
Many people living outdoors are now almost entirely separated from the county’s homeless services system. Of 78 people living at one encampment located beneath an overpass in the Chinatown International District last year, just 40 were currently enrolled in the county’s homeless services data system, according to information collected by outreach workers.
The same outreach workers see another dynamic in the county data.
“That plunge [in households receiving services through the homelessness system] is an indicator that all of the services supporting people living outside shut down,” said Chloe Gale, co-director of REACH. “Their numbers dropped because there were no services left.” Read more here.
Chloe Gale, co-director of city-contracted outreach team REACH, said outreach workers should be part of the discussions on how encampments are prioritized by the city. She also shares similar concerns to the letter writers that some of the city’s new daily data collection requirements would take away from their other work.
“We want the decision-making table where the outreach strategies and the concerns of the people living at the site and their needs are also part of the consideration of how and when encampments get responded to,” Gale said. Read more here.
Heather Barr has worked in the health sciences and social services sectors in King County for more than 30 years, often in connection with marginalized, homeless or incarcerated populations and people struggling with substance-use disorders.
Substance-use disorder never occurs in a vacuum, Barr says, but is part of a much larger medical, social and behavioral picture. The most effective way to treat it is a holistic approach that considers the whole person and all their circumstances, including housing issues, physical/mental health and overall security and well-being. Read more here.
JustCARE is one of a number of efforts that have emerged in the pandemic, determined to make the most of a dormant tourism industry on behalf of people living outside. Last March, King County purchased or leased five hotels. They included the Renton Red Lion, which houses around 230 clients from the Downtown Emergency Service Center, and a hotel in SeaTac run by Catholic Community Services and housing about 100 people. For its part, JustCARE is a separate effort, but with county funding, led by the Public Defender Association and in coordination with Asian Counseling and Referral Service and the Chief Seattle Club. The program also works with the organizations REACH and Wheeler Davis on outreach and community safety. About 130 people have moved into hotels thanks to JustCARE. Read more here.
After years of fighting with former President Donald Trump’s administration, national homelessness advocates are, for the first time in a while, feeling hopeful.
Yes, it seems there are more people out on the streets than ever, and homelessness numbers show no signs of decreasing — in fact, studies say they could get worse if nothing is done. Read more here.
Ron Jackson, clinical professor of social work at UW, became more aware of the immense need for drug addiction treatment during his time as executive director of Evergreen Treatment Services, a Seattle-based substance abuse rehabilitation facility, before he began at UW.
“Their approach in the Oregon initiative and the Washington model is… not a free pass for people that are struggling with substance use disorders,” Jackson said. “[It’s to] get referrals for treatment and housing and other kinds of things to help them stabilize their lives.” Read more here.
When more than a dozen people tested positive for the coronavirus at a homeless camp in South Park in July, despair set in.
“How long do I have to live?” Kenny Palazzo asked his case manager, Dawn Whitson, when he tested positive. Whitson, who works for REACH, the outreach arm of a local nonprofit drug treatment provider, told him he would most likely live, but he needed to isolate in a hotel and quarantine. Read more here.
Chloe Gale, co-director of the city-contracted outreach program REACH, said she was glad the council and the Mayor’s Office were working together. While the Navigation Team was still conducting encampment removals and shelter referrals, REACH staffers had raised concern about people accessing shelter beds through the team and having to compete for limited resources.
“I think we can do a better job of responding on the street in a more coordinated way, but it’s really the first step and we have to keep working on places for people to go,” Gale said. Read more here.
Outreach workers said there has always been a limited supply of shelter housing to move people into, but under COVID and social distancing shelter space is at an absolute premium.
“We have not seen an increase in the number of shelter beds available and so the turnover rate is very low, people want to stay inside if they have a safe place,” said REACH co-director Chloe Gale. Read full article here
“Defunding the Nav Team and fully funding localized outreach with skilled teams is not a silver bullet and will not immediately solve the homelessness crisis. But, paired with dramatic investments in affordable and supportive housing, we may have a real shot at lasting change. Let’s invest, and invest big, in what’s working to end homelessness once and for all.”
“Sending police officers really sends a signal that they’re actually criminals. What we want to do is send actual social workers who understand their experiences, who often have had lived experience themselves, and are really respectful, and know how to build trusting relationships to help move people to change.” Read more to find out what REACH co-director, Chloe Gale, has to say about defunding SPD’s Nav Team.
Our REACH team pulled out of the sweep efforts of Seattle’s Navigation Team a year ago, as “the team was overly focused on clearing encampments and moving people into shelters when that’s not the best option for everyone.” Case managers could not form trusting relationships with their homeless clients when they were followed by officers forcing relocation of encampments. Our community needs to fund programs that can build trust with our most vulnerable, not fear.
Victory! After years of activism and prolonged demonstrations in support of defunding Seattle Police, city-council has made the historic vote of dissolving the Navigation Team responsible for forcibly driving out homeless community members from their encampments. We support solutions that get to the root of chronic homelessness and provide these members of our community with proper services.
As highlighted in the past, our LEAD program participants have “60% lower odds of arrest for six months after their first arrest and 39% lower odds of catching a felony case over the next two years.” With protests in the area showing large support for a shift to community-led programs in response to 9-1-1 calls on cases of homelessness, mental health, drug use, and sex work, find out how allocating funds away from the police and to programs like ours will make our communities safer for all.
Our REACH case managers connect members of our homeless communities with the programs and services they need to enjoy a happy and healthy life. With support from protesters calling for city funds to be diverted from the police to programs like ours, we can show “how it might be possible to lean less on police” and in turn keep our communities even safer by providing sympathetic treatment to our most vulnerable. Read more about us and other ways Seattle protesters are suggesting using diverted police funds.
The Stranger highlights our successful LEAD program as participants have “60% lower odds of arrest for six months after their first arrest and 39% lower odds of catching a felony case over the next two years.”
This GeekWire article explains Lyssn, which uses AI and machine learning to more efficiently and objectively evaluate counseling sessions and provides secure telehealth capabilities. Michelle Peavy, ETS clinical psychologist and research consultant, explains how this technology will improve our abilities to care for our patients from a distance.
“The Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program (LEAD) also moved clients into hotel rooms during the coronavirus crisis. Many have decided to enter treatment programs, said Melodie Reece, a project manager with LEAD.”
The stability that hotel housing has provided has brought many clients to pursue medication-assisted treatment, a process that requires consistency. This consistency and safety are threatened as housing provisions are set to expire.
We are now partnering with emocha Health to utilize Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) which confirms that individuals take their methadone as prescribed and in the correct dose, and prevents diversion.
REACH outreach care coordinator, Dawn Whitson explains the added layers of difficulty navigating the COVID-19 pandemic for her clients experiencing homelessness. As she continues to bring food from food banks, deliver clothing, and connect them to medical care, her concerns for their well-being continues to rise.
In this KUOW interview, Mayor Jenny Durkan responds to Dawn Whitson, REACH outreach care coordinator’s concerns over not having enough shelter spaces, and the need to use hotels to distance people.
“Rumors and misinformation can spread like viruses too, and they can be just as difficult to contain. Dawn Whitson, one of the social workers with REACH…explained that martial law hadn’t actually been imposed.” Our REACH team is bringing information and services to our clients outside. Check out this Frontline article to learn more about outreach efforts in Seattle during the pandemic.
Our REACH team is teaming up with Asian Counseling and Referral Services (ACRS) to ensure that people in our area are receiving meals during the coronavirus crisis.
ETS nurse, Jackie Brolsma speaks with KUOW about how we are continuing to provide high-quality care for our patients during the coronavirus crisis.
“In Seattle, the nonprofit Evergreen Treatment Services set up a mobile dispensary — a customized van — in the parking lot of its largest clinic to give opioid medications to symptomatic patients. Group counseling has temporarily been suspended; counselors are talking to patients by phone.” Check out this Washington Post article on the evolving needs of addiction treatment facilities, with our CEO, Steve Woolworth quoted inside.
“Now, a solution employed by some Washington counties appears to offer an effective tool for reaching individuals trapped at the intersection of addiction, criminal activity and homelessness.” Dorothy Bullitt, an ETS donor writes about the importance of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder in King County jails.
ETS speaks up about the threat to funding essential services, while others weigh in about how essential the services are to the community.
On the front page of The New York Times Sunday Review, Nicholas Kristof called out the ineffectiveness of the “War on Drugs” the U.S. has been waging for decades. After his visit to Seattle, including a few days with REACH’s LEAD case managers and clients, he is convinced that innovative, compassionate approaches like ours are the way forward.
Sean Soth sat down with KDOX’s radio podcast “3 to 1” to educate the public about the different services ETS provides, from medication-assisted treatment to our new Treatment in Motion van, to REACH.
The Washington Post profiles Seattle’s LEAD program and progressive policies to better address low-level drug possession charges, featuring REACH Case Manager Mikel Kowalcyk.
This Crosscut opinion piece lays out an alternative to criminalizing homelessness and substance use disorders – including supportive housing and medication-assisted treatment.
The proposed safe-injection sites for Seattle and King County are in need of stable funding and could also face legal issues with the federal government, similar to what is happening in Pennsylvania.
The Washington State Healthcare Authority is rolling out a new campaign, ‘Starts With One’, to shed light on the possible dangers of opioid medications.
The Seattle Times Project Homeless team wants to hear from you. Join them for coffee Tuesday, March 26 from 7:45 to 9:00 a.m. at Project Homeless HQ, 6940 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The team wants to hear what you think about their reporting and discuss the topics they’re writing about. The event is open to all, but please RSVP.
The spike in deaths – caused by the synthetic opioid Fentanyl – rose from 29 deaths per 100,000 people in 1999 to 14.9.
The opioid epidemic has devastated America. It is now the leading cause of death in the U.S. for Americans under 55. How did we get here? “Getting hooked is nobody’s plan. Some turn to heroin because prescription painkillers are tough to get. Fentanyl, which is 50 times more potent than heroin, has snaked its way into other drugs like cocaine, Xanax and MDMA, widening the epidemic.” Check out this visual journey through addiction to better understand how opioids hijack the brains of our family and friends.
The Washington State Supreme Court struck down I-27 – the initiative seeking to ban safe injection sites in King County – citing an infringement on the county’s right to set its own budget. “The ruling opens the doors for the county to begin setting up consumption sites as part of its pilot program.”
U.S. life expectancy has decreased for the third year in a row according to the Centers for Disease Control. In 2017, there were more than 70,000 drug overdose deaths – the highest for any year recorded. The synthetic opioid Fentanyl remains the top killer of those abusing substances. But there is hope. Statisticians believe that 2018 could show the opioid crisis and overdose deaths leveling off thanks to medication-assisted treatment, the overdose-reversing antidote naloxone, and corralling deceptive pharmaceutical companies.
Will 2018 statistics prove a decrease in opioid-related deaths? Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar thinks so. “There’s solid evidence backing medication-assisted treatment, when used alongside counseling and ongoing support. He also noted much broader access to the overdose-reversing drug naloxone, and a documented decline in the number of people misusing prescription opioids as doctors take greater care in prescribing.”
One of the major opioid manufacturing companies accused of deceptively marketing their drugs – Purdue Pharma – is making a $3.4 million grant to produce the overdose-reversing drug naloxone. “Governments are asking for changes in how opioids are marketed, and for help paying for treatment and the costs of ambulance runs, child welfare systems, jails and other expenses associated with the opioid crisis.”
The money is part of an allocation of over $1 billion from the federal government to help stifle the opioid epidemic where overdose and substance abuse are highest.
Although more than 72,000 people died from overdoses last year, our current federal government wants to ban safe injections sites. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein believes the facilities do more harm than good. “This is not a disease that gets spread like the flu, people can only become addicted if they have access to these illegal drugs. If we can prevent that access, we can prevent the addiction.”
“The health district said the dramatic increase in reported overdoses may be due to doctors observing tighter guidelines on opioid prescriptions, leading their patients to turn to heroin or to illegal opioid vendors. The surge may also have been caused by improved data collection, officials said.”
“I thought it was just pills.” The phrase heard over and over again from family members of those who have overdosed. This @NPR story highlights what one journalist learned from years of researching the opioid epidemic.
“At a time of widespread anguish and hand-wringing about addiction, neither the president, nor Congress, nor governors, nor journalists are paying enough attention to the one thing that could truly make a difference: more and better treatment.” Medication-assisted treatment is too critical in addressing the opioid epidemic to be ignored.
ETS’ executive director, Molly Carney, was featured in this Seattle Weekly article on the barriers patients face trying to access medication-assisted treatment.
Through a federal program that places qualified doctors in under-served communities, Dr. Nicole Gastala found herself practicing family medicine in Marhsalltown,IA. She soon began her journey tackling the opioid epidemic in her new town and dealing with the bureaucracy and stigma that comes along with helping people begin their recovery from opioids.
Substance users on their journey to recovery face many challenges. One challenge they shouldn’t face is access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Currently, there are no approved opioid treatment programs west of the Puget Sound. Tad Sooter from the Kitsap Sun follows an ETS patient – Janine – on her commute by ferry and car to receive MAT.
Safe injection sites have long been a contentious idea in Seattle. A place where addicts can safely consume drugs under the guidance of medical professionals – a crazy idea to some, but others believe such sites can help tackle the opioid crisis.
America’s opioid epidemic is not a new one, but a revitalization of substance misuse catalyzed by doctors prescribing a profitable and effective drug. “What is striking is how, aside from some Victorian-era moralizing, they [those who overdose] feel so familiar to a 21st-century reader: Henderson developed an addiction at a vulnerable point in her life, found doctors who enabled it and then self-destructed. She was just one of thousands of Americans who lost their lives to addiction between the 1870s and the 1920s.”
ETS Executive Director Molly Carney was featured in Seattle Weekly for her knowledge around safe injection sites. “We believe the law is clear that public health decisions must be made by public health authorities in consultation with experts,” stated Carney as the safe injection site battle heads to the State Supreme Court.
The current opioid epidemic is the worst drug epidemic in U.S history. Epidemics have plagued countries across the 19th and 20th centuries and wars were fought over opium. The medical community is largely blamed for the epidemics that have affected populations over the years. Why have we not learned from our past?
“Medicines like methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone are used to help people who have addictions to opioids including heroin and fentanyl. The persistence of methadone and the emergence of buprenorphine as weapons in the battle against addiction is viewed with skepticism by supporters of strict abstinence from all narcotics.”
Governor Inslee signed into law a supplemental capital budget. ETS was awarded $3 million for increased behavioral health capacity.
A federal ban on mobile methadone clinics may be holding back proven medication-assisted treatment for those who are experiencing opioid addiction. Vans have the capability to reach the outskirts of cities to the most densely populated areas where an on-the-ground clinic is non-existent. ETS has federal grant money set aside to deploy four new vans, but until the DEA lifts the ban, the money and the medication lies dormant.
ETS’s REACH team pairs up with the Seattle Police Department to create the Navigation Team. This group of social workers and police officers work as a unit to help those experiencing homelessness and substance use get access to housing and critical resources.
People are dying at staggering rates from opioid overdose. If lawmakers want to seriously help put a dent in overdose deaths, they must support safe injection sites. The contentious sites provide the overdose drug, naloxone, sterile syringes, and services that help get users on the road to recovery. Data from sites around the world prove that these safe consumption spaces have a positive influence on getting users into treatment.
Safe injection sites violate U.S. Federal Law yet can save tens of thousands of lives across the United States. In the wake of the largest drug epidemic in U.S. history – far surpassing the AIDS epidemic – the U.S. must turn to innovative and radical ideas to halt this deadly epidemic. Safe injection sites attract the most marginalized populations of those who inject drugs, promote safe conditions for injecting, and open doors for those who are ready to seek healthcare – both mental and physical. These people already exist in our communities and these sites help them find the support they need to get into recovery. Cities like Vancouver and Sydney have already approved safe injection sites. The data surrounding these sites prove that there is no enhanced drug use or drug trafficking. So why are U.S. cities having such a hard time legalizing sites to help stifle the opioid epidemic? Stigma surrounding safe injection sites and public misconception are holding back lawmakers from approving said sites. This NYT article shows how Philadelphia is surpassing the bureaucracy and providing the needed help to substance users.
The stigma that exists around Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) hinders substance users from beginning their journey to recovery. Addiction is not synonymous to dependence on medication. Joe Thompson’s story serves as a harrowing example of how this type of stigma can be deadly towards those seeking treatment.
“We have a crisis on our hands — and the last half century we’ve been failing to solve it.” New York Times opinion contributors show how we’ve lost the war on drugs, and what to do next.
“‘For 100-plus years as a society, we’ve punished and criminalized people who use drugs.”
This has fostered an environment in which people who are addicted to drugs are seen not as victims of a disease who need help, as we would see, say, someone with cancer. Instead, they’re viewed as wrongdoers and perpetrators of their own illness.” Reporter German Lopez from Vox on the stigma of addiction.
Seattle and King County lawmakers have been grappling with the opioid crisis. Last year, over 300 people died of an overdose. A contentious idea – safe injection sites – exist in many places around the world. Many people wonder if the sites will help or hinder the substance user. “You can’t help a dead person”, states Michael Roberts, Victim’s Father & Co-Founder, Amber’s H.O.P.E. With Narcan, staff at the sites are able to revive those who overdose. REACH’s Co -Director Chloe Gale joins Seattle City Councilman Rob Johnson, Dr. Joe Merrill, and Gretchen Taylor of Neighborhood Safety Alliance of Seattle to discuss the pros and cons of safe injection sites.
Philanthropy and local government are changing the way substance abuse affect our families, neighbors, and friends. That moment when someone thinks, “I need to get help” is the “tiny window of opportunity,” says ETS Executive Director, Molly Carney. However, wait times can be detrimental towards the recovery process. “Currently, only five out of 29 local treatment agencies are able to consistently provide on-demand outpatient treatment for low-income clients.” Billionaire Steve and Connie Ballmer’s philanthropy and King County will soon be funding incentive payments for on-demand, outpatient treatment.
ETS Executive Director, Molly Carney, writes in the Seattle Times about Trump’s opioid crisis decision, “The problem is too overwhelming without increased support at the federal level. Had the president actually declared a national emergency, we would be better equipped to do more, right now.”
“According to Facing Addiction, one in three American households have a family member in active addiction, in recovery, or lost to an overdose.”Battling stigma is one of the many pillars to defeating addiction. By supporting those in recovery to speak up about their journey, one may inspire another to begin theirs to recovery.
“Had he declared a national emergency rather than a public health emergency, it would have immediately released federal money, which would have gone to drug treatment programs like King County’s Evergreen Treatment Services (ETS).”
At Evergreen Treatment Services we support safe injection sites. Public policy should be formed from data not stigma. “…safe injection sites, which would be supervised, could save addicts from overdosing while protecting the public from used needles.” Superior Court Judge Veronica Alicea Galvan ruled that Initiative 27 – which bans safe injection sites – extends beyond the scope of the initiative power.
In the midst of the opioid epidemic, the U.S. should look across the pond for strategies. “Portugal undertook a monumental experiment: It decriminalized the use of all drugs in 2001, even heroin and cocaine, and unleashed a major public health campaign to tackle addiction. Ever since in Portugal, drug addiction has been treated more as a medical challenge than as a criminal justice issue.” Portugal boasts the lowest drug-induced deaths statistics in Western Europe, a fraction of the 312 deaths per million people in the U.S., ages 15-64.
Until President Trump officially transmits his decision to Congress – signing it into national emergency status – millions of dollars to fight the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history will lie dormant. Simply saying the word “emergency” will not halt fatal opioid overdose any sooner.
In a new study, researchers found that a doctor’s medical school education may shape their opioid prescribing habits. Research compiled by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that doctors who studied at low-ranking medical schools prescribed 3x more opioids than those who studied at Harvard.
A lawsuit has been filed to overthrow I-27, which seeks to ban safe injection sites. The lawsuit purports that citizens do not have the right to weigh scientific evidence on a multi-faceted public health issue at the ballot box. “I-27 would set a dangerous precedent for public health. Supervised Consumption Spaces are an essential tool in fighting the opiate epidemic,” Dr. Bob Wood, former director of the HIV/AIDS Program at Public Health-Seattle & King County.
“Molly Carney and her team hope every day that their hard work is saving people’s lives.
Carney is executive director of Evergreen Treatment Services, a nonprofit that offers medication-assisted treatment for adults with opioid use disorders and operates the Reach team, which provides street-based case management and outreach services to more than 1,000 homeless adults with substance-use disorders in the greater Seattle area each year. Carney joined ETS in 2013 and has grown the treatment side of the organization from two clinics serving 1,400 adults a year in Washington to four clinics serving 3,000.”
Read the full interview by PSBJ’s Coral Garnick.
Rather than solely blame the victims of the opioid crisis, skeptics should look at the doctors, pharmacists, and politicians that allowed opioids to be disbursed at such an alarming rate. “This is an almost uniquely American crisis driven in good part by particular American issues from the influence of drug companies over medical policy to a “pill for every ill” culture.
“[The opioid epidemic] is a public health issue, with a very effective intervention,” ETS’s Molly Carney reacts on KOMO News to a recent University of Washington study showing a record number of drug-related deaths in 2016.
For heroin and other opioid addiction, the medication-assisted treatment that ETS provides has been proven to reduce overdose.
The opioid crisis is the worst drug crisis in the U.S. ever. How did we get here? Policymakers and the medical community must push agenda to reform how Americans view the opioid crisis.
The White House panel doing research on the opioid epidemic suggests Trump declare a state of emergency. “America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks.” Since 1999, the amount of overdoses in the U.S. has quadrupled.
“For every person who moves into a freshly minted affordable apartment, another one or two fall out.” This is the reality of the homelessness crisis in the Greater Seattle Area. In recent years, Seattle and King County have tried to fund affordable housing initiatives.”Despite the large investments, publicly subsidized affordable housing has not kept up. Which is where private-market landlords come into the picture.”
GOP lawmakers looking to repeal the Affordable Care Act face resistance from members in their party who come from regions hardest hit by the opioid epidemic. Medicaid currently pays for about 25 percent of all substance use treatment.
This map from the C.D.C. shows which counties have the highest opioid prescription rates. “The opioid prescription rate is not evenly distributed. […] Large swaths of the country had significantly higher rates of opioid prescriptions per capita in 2015, with particular hot spots being Northern California, Southern Nevada, Western Maine, and Tennessee.”
Our Seattle and South King County clinics are currently accepting patients. If you are in need of treatment please call the clinic nearest you to schedule an appointment, or if you are in Seattle we are accepting walk-ins (1700 Airport Way) on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings at 7:45am.
For more info on the intake procedures, check out the Intake page.
Your recovery can start today!
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s new opioid prescribing trend analysis shows that while the amount of opioids prescibed overall has dropped 18 percent between 2010 and 2015, the prescribing rate is still three times as high as the rate in 1999.
Parallels in misleading marketing and downplayed health risks between today’s prescription opioid market and the 1990 tobacco industry are evident, according to NPR.
In three major U.S. cities – Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco – librarians are learning how to use the overdose antidote naloxone as those with substance use disorders frequent library restrooms.
NPR’s Michel Martin speaks with Lynn Cooper, director of the Drug and Alcohol Division at Pennsylvania’s Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association, about the Senate GOP healthcare bill.
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson hosted a two-day opioid summit in Seattle and advocated for the medication-assisted treatment with medications like methadone paired with wraparound services like counseling as the optimal treatment for opioid addiction.
A coroner from Elizabethtown N.Y. discusses the most difficult part of his job with students, talking to the families of the victims of fatal overdose.
One clinic in Vancouver, BC is treating people with opioid use disorders with medical-grade heroin. “The idea is this: If some people are going to use heroin no matter what, it’s better to give them a safe source of the stuff and a safe place to inject it, rather than letting them pick it up on the street — laced with who knows what — and possibly overdose without medical supervision.”
New health data compiled from health agencies across the country reveal drug overdoes deaths in 2016 exceed 59,000, a record-breaking and heart-breaking statistic.
After Trump promised to resolve America’s opioid epidemic on the campaign trail, his recent budget which proposed cutting funds from addiction treatment, research, and prevention, has left families reeling from this crisis disappointed and angry.
Research confirms medication-assisted treatment (MAT) – with medications such as methadone and buprenorphine – is effective in preventing recurrence of use and overdose. Despite MAT skeptics, the American Society of Addiction Medicine recommends medication combined with counseling as the optimal treatment strategy for most patients.
Moving away from the argument that the opioid epidemic is being fueled by white working class despair and economic sluggishness, evidence points to changing drug markets and criminal networks as the real culprits.
Despite the campaign promise to end the opioid crisis, advocates say the administration seems to be furthering retrenchment on drug addiction, criminalizing addiction instead of finding lasting solutions.
Public restrooms have become a public safety and health concern as they are being used as a place for people to use heroin and other drugs. This radio feature highlights a user navigating Boston’s public restroom arena, a local business owner, and an addiction expert at Boston Medical Center to explore the challenges and propose solutions, one of which are safe consumption sites.
Canadian government extends permission to three Canadian cities – Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa – to set up safe injection sites; coordinator of the Toronto planned site explains why they’re necessary to fight the crisis on the ground.
“Amid a national catastrophe as serious as the opioid drug crisis, Trump lacks the knowledge and discipline to pursue the sorts of policies that would save more lives or do more good, even when the flaws of his alternative approach are glaringly obvious. The full consequences of his frustrating shortcomings may prove terrible, indeed.”
Research findings show that unlike the war on drugs, treatment for substance use disorders has a tangible impact on crime reduction. Counseling paired with medication, such as methadone or buprenorphine, has been shown to be the most cost-effective way to treat opioid use disorder. C.D.C. researcher Harold Pollack explained, “the economic value of crime reduction largely or totally offsets the cost of treatment.”
Lacey City Council approved a $250,000 community development grant to Evergreen Treatment Services to expand the South Sound Clinic. This is a reflection of the council’s acknowledgement of the growing opioid epidemic and their commitment to finding solutions.
This interactive charts allows readers to estimate how the opioid epidemic compares to other causes of death in the U.S., and then shows how close those estimations are to the real numbers.
In response to the growing opioid epidemic, Seattle lawmakers consider launching safe-consumption sites, allowing users to consume drugs under medical supervision.
NYT best-selling author, Maia Szalavitz advocates for addiction to be framed as a learning disorder and not as a moral failing, and she explains why forcing people into treatment won’t work.
Op-ed highlights the need to make progress against the opioid epidemic through economic integration and job creation efforts for rural, blighted communities in the U.S.
On this episode of the Seattle Time‘s The Overcast, we get a public-health and science perspective on safe consumption sites from Caleb Banta-Green, principal research scientist at the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute at the University of Washington.
Submit your questions regarding the heroin crisis, safe injection sites, and substance use disorder treatment to be discussed during KOMO’s televised town hall with former news anchor, Penny LeGate, Sen. Mark Miloscia, Caleb Banta-Green from the UW’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, and Snohomish Cty Sheriff Ty Trenary.
As annual death tolls from drug overdoses surpasses the number of deaths caused by AIDS during its peak in America, New York Magazine argues that the opioid epidemic has become today’s largest public health challenge.
New York models the actions needed nationwide to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic, and commits to an ambitious plan to cut overdose deaths and get people the treatment they need.
Seattle Channel weighs pros and cons of the Heroin and Opioid Task Force’s recommended safe consumption sites in Seattle.
Despite increasing evidence that almost half of fatal overdoses began with a doctor prescription of opioids, polls gathered from 3,000 participants show people aren’t shying away from the medications.
Survey compiled by Seattle human Services indicates most Seattle homeless are “homegrown” and large numbers are either former foster children or veterans, and nearly a quarter have attended college.
The opioid epidemic has hit Utah hard – a state already struggling with a lack of health care– so the Syringe Exchange has stepped in to help prevent fatal overdoses by giving people what they need to inject drugs safely. People bring their dirty syringes and exchange are provided with clean syringes, tourniquets, alcohol swabs, first aid kits, and if possible, the overdose antidote naloxone.
Sam Quinones, author of the book Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic, writes for the New York Times on how walls can stop people, but do not stop drugs.
Evergreen Treatment Services’s Michelle Peavey weighs in on the value of medication assisted treatment with other professionals at a summit in Kingston on February 4.
Seattle and King County move towards creating nation’s first safe drug sites to combat the opioid crisis based on the Herion and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force’s recommendation.
King County Board of Health unanimously voted to support the task force on heroin’s recommendation of opening safe drug consumption sites.
The New York Times covers LEAD’s harm reduction approach toward people, like Roland Vasquez, who are caught in the cycle of incarceration. Vasquez describes his struggle with substance use and LEAD’s role in keeping him in treatment and rebuilding his life and relationships.
This special radio documentary covers life in “the Jungle” – a homeless encampment under Seattle’s I-5 freeway.
MTV teams up with multi-platinum artist Macklemore to go inside America’s opioid epidemic, meeting those living with addiction and heading to Washington DC for an exclusive talk with President Obama on this important issue. Watch now!
We are opening a new clinic in South King County. Listen to Executive Director, Molly Carney discuss the need for treatment in this area with Emily Fox.
PBS Frontline’s documentary “Chasing Heroin” covers the heroin epidemic in Western Washington and the various efforts to treat and manage this public health crisis.
Northwest Now, a production of KBTC Tacoma interviews Molly Carney, ETS executive director, Caleb Banta-Green of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute at the UW, and former TV journalist Penny LeGate who tragically lost her daughter to heroin overdose.
The Daily World in Hoquiam discusses the best treatment options for inmates with opioid use disorders.
ETS Executive Director, Molly Carney, speaks with Mark Wright of King 5 about the heroin epidemic and available treatment options.
We are launching a new program to get treatment to rural areas of Western Washington where the heroin epidemic is hitting people hard. Learn more in this interview between Molly Carney, Executive Director of ETS, and Ross Reynolds on KUOW’s The Record.