Snohomish County combats fentanyl crisis with new $1.4 million plan

May 19, 2023, 5:30 PM

somers Snohomish County fentanyl...

Dave Somers, Snohomish County Executive, talks at a press conference. (Photo by Erika Schultz-Pool/Getty Images)

(Photo by Erika Schultz-Pool/Getty Images)

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers is rolling out a new plan to fight back against the fentanyl crisis by setting up mobile treatment and counseling resources. Somers stated he wants to work with communities to build more drug treatment clinics countywide.

The plan’s first step — which is set to cost $1.4 million — would make naloxone more available to first responders while also creating long-term housing and healthcare solutions for those struggling with substance abuse.

“I lost my only brother in March to a fentanyl overdose. I know how powerful these drugs are and the impacts they have on loved ones and our whole community,” Executive Somers said in a prepared statement. “Current policy debates on public safety, addiction, and homelessness all too often seem to forget that real people are involved. In Snohomish County, we have built the infrastructure for addressing substance use disorder, and this plan is crucial for advancing our efforts locally.

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“Ultimately, we need an influx of state and federal dollars to address the complex issues individuals, communities, and businesses are facing because of this drug crisis,” Somers continued. “We must do more before we lose more loved ones.”

Somers claimed the answer to this crisis is treatment, not jail. 284 fatal overdoses occurred in Snohomish County last year. Between 2017 and 2022, the number of opioid-related overdose deaths reported in Snohomish County more than doubled. The number of those that involved fentanyl jumped from 24 to 189.

The county has already exceeded 80 fatal overdoses within the first quarter of 2023, with more than half of them tied to opioids.

“We think expanding existing programs is something we can do quickly. And we know how effectively, in the longer term, we want to get into school-based education and prevention programs,” Somers told KIRO Newsradio. “We think talking to kids at an early age is a good idea. Every child in school today is going to at some point in their lives, be faced with substance issues, whether it’s in school or at home or in the community.”

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The money for the plan would come from the half-billion dollar settlement in the state’s opioid lawsuit against major drug companies.

Phase Two of Somer’s plan is set to focus on school-based education to mitigate substance use disorders among youth and to create mobile resources to provide medication-assisted treatment and counseling for individuals suffering from substance use disorders.

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