We All Know Someone: Skagit County Solution to Addiction Event a Success
On September 26, 2018, the Northwest ATTC in conjunction with the Skagit County Public Health Department and Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, co-sponsored a community-based Recovery Month event in Skagit County called “Solution to Addiction: Know the Facts. Join the Conversation. Be Part of the Solution.”
The event, held at the Swinomish Casino & Lodge in Anacortes, WA, brought together 500 community members, county and public health officials, Swinomish tribal representatives, providers, and recovery coalitions to begin an inclusive conversation about addiction and how communities can work together to bring about lasting change.
We all know someone
The tagline for the event was “We all know someone,” a sentiment reflected by a number of the speakers. Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Chairman Brian Cladoosby and Skagit County Commissioner Lisa Janicki opened the event by speaking emotionally about loved ones lost to opioids. Three members of the Swinomish Tribe fatally overdosed on heroin in just 24 days in 2013, Chairman Cladoosby said.
The Tribe recently opened the didgʷálič Wellness Center, the largest medication-assisted treatment facility north of Snohomish County in Washington state, as part of their ongoing efforts to support both Tribal members and others in the community in their recovery.
Commissioner Janicki talked about her youngest son Patrick, who broke his back after falling from a pole and was prescribed opioids for pain by his doctor. He later developed an opioid use disorder, ultimately battling addiction for a decade before finally succumbing to a drug-related cardiac arrest at just 30 years old.
Keynote speaker John Fitzgerald, PhD, statewide addiction treatment analyst for the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission and Certified Addiction Specialist working clinically as a Licensed Professional Counselor, talked about the role genetics play in the development of addiction. “No one sets out to get addiction,” he said. “Just like no one sets out to get heart disease.” He also spoke about the impact of trauma, “a speechless horror,” on addiction, noting that it correlates very strongly with substance use disorders, yet is one of the hardest issues to help people overcome.
Communities play a powerful role in recovery
Northwest ATTC co-director Deena Vandersloot gave a powerful and well-received presentation about the community’s role in supporting people in recovery. She noted that when she asked focus group participants what would help them as they recover, a significant number reported not having a home to return to following residential treatment, interfering with their ability to focus on their recovery. Communities play a powerful role in recovery in so many ways, she told the audience, from helping people find housing or employment to simply treating those in recovery with dignity and respect. “People go to facilities for treatment,” Ms. Vandersloot noted, “but they recover in communities.”
The event also featured over two dozen exhibitors, including the Northwest ATTC, the ADAI Clearinghouse, and numerous local treatment and recovery organizations, providing attendees with an array of informational materials about treatment and prevention of substance use disorders.
The Northwest ATTC is proud to have been a part of this powerful community event and is looking forward to building on the relationships developed with Skagit County and the Swinomish Tribe as we continue working together to help people achieve and sustain recovery from substance use disorders.
(This piece was also posted on the ATTC/NIATx blog.)