Our Opioid Addiction Learning Curve

By Joy Portella, President, Minerva Strategies—

Minerva Strategies has been working with our client Evergreen Treatment Services (ETS), which provides medication-assisted treatment for people in Western Washington who struggle with opioid addiction, for more than one year. I’ll admit that we knew embarrassingly little about this topic when we first got involved with ETS. I could tell you more about malaria in Uganda than I could about heroin use in Seattle.

We have learned a tremendous amount in the interim about how opioid dependence is a chronic medical condition, and how rates of opioid addiction have skyrocketed in the past decade due to the availability of cheap, potent heroin, and the lax prescription of opioid-based painkillers. We learned that medication-assisted treatment is proven to be the best way to get people off of heroin and other harmful opioids – and keep them off. Most important, we learned about the courage and dedication of people who work tirelessly to overcome opioid dependence.

This week our friends at ETS penned an opinion piece for The Seattle Times about the epidemic of opioid addiction, and the need for an integrated approach, including increased availability of the opioid antidote naloxone but also critical treatment and prevention programs. They’re smart folks working at the frontlines of treatment, and we encourage you to read the piece and learn about this vicious epidemic – and what can be done to stop it.