Washington county deploys natural disaster strategy for opioid epidemic

Stanwood, Wash., is responding to the opioid epidemic by mobilizing its Multi-Agency Coordination group, which is typically used to respond to natural disasters, according to NPR.

Here are four things to know:

1. Rural heroin overdoses are increasing and have surpassed the rate of heroin overdoses in cities, according to the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released Oct. 20. In a poll conducted by NPR, 48 percent of rural Americans indicated opioid addiction has gotten worse in their community in the past five years.

2. Local Stanwood officials got the idea to implement opioid response efforts similar to those used for natural disasters after a landslide in 2017. The MAC group is comprised of local government officials, police officers and aims to reduce opioid misuse in the community.

3. As part of this goal, the team works to secure housing and treatment for people with opioid use disorder. The MAC group also coordinates transportation for those in drug treatment and trains community members on how to use naloxone. There are more than 100 bullet points on the MAC group's response plan.

"By breaking it down, it's like eating an elephant," Shari Ireton, director of communications for the Stanwood Sheriff’s office, told NPR. "You just can eat one piece at a time. Breaking it down into a piece that you can actually digest."

4. The county's approach has already helped hundreds of people find both housing and treatment, according to the report.

More articles on opioids: 

President Trump signs opioid bill into law; 21 companies pledge support
CMS rolls out payment model for pregnant women with opioid use disorder
Drug overdose deaths fell over last 6 months, CDC finds

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