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Gov. Inslee takes action to fight opioid addiction

Recovering addict Mary McCale speaks at UW on Friday. Gov. Jay Inslee is asking state agencies to step up and respond to growing opioid addiction in Washington state. (Josh Kerns, KIRO Radio)

Governor Jay Inslee is mobilizing resources from all over the state to tackle the growing opiate epidemic.

The governor on Friday ordered state agencies to work with local public health, tribal and other officials to respond to the growing problem of overdoses of opioids such as heroin and prescription narcotics. The agencies must work on the state’s response plan and report on its progress by the end of this year.

Related: Seattle mayor tours safe injection site in Vancouver

“We know we have got to do more and we’ve got to do it smarter,” Inslee said. “And we’ve got to do it together and we’ve got to do it today.”

He’s also calling for increased training for primary care doctors so they can do a better job of recognizing addiction in its early stages.

“Today is a day of solidarity,” Inslee said. “It’s a day of renewed resolutions and a day of action. We are here to say when it comes to opioid abuse, enough is enough.”

Inslee made the announcement at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle where he was joined by medical providers, law enforcement officials, patients and family members who have been affected by opioid abuse.

Last year, 718 people died from opioid overdoses in Washington. While prescription opioid drug deaths have declined, heroin overdose deaths are increasing, particularly among young people.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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