County officials want to remind the public that, although there is more awareness of the issue, the opioid crisis is far from over.
People are still becoming addicted to prescription and intravenous opioids and many still die from accidental overdose.
“This isn’t anything we’re done with,” said Betsy Griffith, county human services behavioral health program lead.
The opioid outreach team is hosting Narcan Night 6 p.m., Oct. 24 at Oak Harbor Library to discuss warning signs of overdose, how to properly store and dispose of prescription medication, treatment for opioid addiction and what to do in a crisis.
A key aspect of a crisis response is having Narcan, a brand name for naloxone, which can counter the effects of opioid overdose. It’s administered through a nasal spray and is considered safe.
The medication will be handed out at the event, and naloxone is also available to anyone through a pharmacy by a standing order from the state health officer.
It is covered by most health insurance plans and Washington residents covered by the state’s Medicaid program can obtain naloxone at no cost.
“Having a medication that can reverse an overdose in everyone’s hands is the best-case scenario,” Griffith said.
Narcan Night, which is slated to last about an hour, is also aimed at diminishing the stigma around addiction and discussing the pervasiveness of the problem in the county.
Griffith, a county public health nurse and an Island County Sheriff’s Office deputy will speak on the effects of the crisis on the community.
“More than ever, the opioid epidemic is really proving no one is safe from it,” Griffith said.
People who are more predisposed to dependency can become addicted in as little as two weeks of using prescription opioids, she said. Young people who have surgery for injuries, older adults who use them for pain management and others are all at risk of misuse or accidental overdose.
“It’s really a powerful thing that we have something that can give someone a second chance,” Griffith said.