Shawn Lucca (from left), Mary Yeldon and Anthony Cecotti attend the candlelight vigil held by Hope Soldiers in honor of International Overdose Awareness Day at Mukilteo Foursquare Church in August. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Shawn Lucca (from left), Mary Yeldon and Anthony Cecotti attend the candlelight vigil held by Hope Soldiers in honor of International Overdose Awareness Day at Mukilteo Foursquare Church in August. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Forums will address Snohomish County’s heroin epidemic

MUKILTEO — The photographs, lining the entryway to a church, told the story more powerfully than any statistic could.

Captured in a moment when they were young, smiling, and seemingly carefree, the portraits were of people whose lives were taken in and ultimately taken away by heroin.

The event, organized by Hope Soldiers on Wednesday, was the second time that people gathered in Snohomish County as part of International Overdose Awareness Day.

“I really think we are at a point in our county where everybody knows heroin is an issue,” said Lindsey Greinke, founder and president of Hope Soldiers, an Everett nonprofit that helps people struggling with addiction.

“It’s a complete epidemic and we have to do something … we need to contain it,” she said.

To help people learn more about the problem, four upcoming forums on heroin have been scheduled. The first is set for Sept. 15 in Lake Stevens. Other events are scheduled Sept. 20 in Tulalip, Sept. 27 in Arlington, and Oct. 13 at Edmonds Community College.

“Our hope is to make people aware of treatment resources within Snohomish County,” said Cammy Hart-Anderson, a manager for the county’s Human Services Department.

Training also will be provided at each of the events on how to administer Naloxone, an overdose-reversing medication, that helps block the effects of heroin and prescription pain medications such as oxycodone, Vicodin and codeine.

Deaths from opioid overdoses killed 900 people in Snohomish County during the decade ending in 2014, more than car crashes, murders and falls, according to the Snohomish Health District.

Since April 2015, 667 people in Snohomish County have been trained in using Naloxone, which is administered through a nasal device. It has saved the lives of 53 people, Hart-Anderson said.

The medication is available at 13 pharmacies in the county without a prescription.

Heroin use has contributed to an increasing number of homeless encampments, Hart-Anderson said. And the Snohomish County jail is regularly detoxing 50 to 60 people from heroin.

Earlier this year, both Mukilteo and Snohomish organized public events on the problem.

“As word started to get out, other cities started looking at how to do more locally,” said Heather Thomas, a spokeswoman for the Snohomish Health District.

The public health agency worked with the county to organize the upcoming forums. Parents whose children have died from heroin overdoses also are scheduled to participate.

Ralph Krusey, interim public safety director in Lake Stevens, said that in the last six months in his city, Naloxone has been successfully used four times to save someone who had overdosed on heroin.

Some of the topics to be discussed at the forum include behavioral changes that may indicate someone is using heroin and where to get help for someone who is addicted.

“No place is immune,” he said. “Lake Stevens is trying to address it the best we can.”

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.

Forums

A series of forums have been scheduled on Snohomish County’s heroin and opioid problem:

Sept.15 at 6:30 p.m. at Cavalero Mid High School , 8220 24th St. SE, Lake Stevens

Sept. 20 at 6:30 p.m. in the Orca Room at Tulalip Resort, 10200 Quil Ceda Blvd., Tulalip

Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. at Byrnes Performing Arts Center, 18821 Crown Ridge Blvd., Arlington

Oct. 13 at 6:30 p.m. in at Edmonds Community College’s Woodway Hall, 20000 68th Ave. W, Lynnwood

More information is available at www.snohd.org/heroin. The events are sponsored by the Snohomish Health District and Snohomish County Human Services.

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