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Press Release

Eastern District of Washington Heroin/Opioid Overdose Summit

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Washington

Spokane – Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that the United States Attorney’s Office, in partnership with the University of Washington, Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute (ADAI), Kittitas County Public Health Department, and Central Washington University, will be hosting a summit meeting to discuss the growing problem of opioid overdose in Eastern Washington.

The United States Department of Justice has identified prevention of opioid abuse and death as a major priority for the United States Department of Justice. In a policy address delivery in March, 2014, Attorney General Eric Holder stated: “When confronting the problem of substance abuse, it makes sense to focus attention on the most dangerous types of drugs. And right now, few substances are more lethal than prescription opiates and heroin. Addiction to heroin and other opiates – including certain prescription pain-killers – is impacting the lives of Americans in every state, in every region, and from every background and walk of life – and all too often, with deadly results.”

Analysis by the University of Washington ADAI suggests the scope of the problem in the Eastern Washington is very serious. From 2002 to 2013:

• Two people per week died from an opioid overdose;
• 3,084 people entered publicly funded treatment for the first time for opioid use, a 103% increase;
• Local law enforcement evidence testing for opioids increased 79% and totaled 3,502 cases.

This summit with bring together disciplines that combat heroin and prescription opioid overdoses to exchange information and find effective ways to:

• Implement overdose prevention programs in Eastern Washington;
• Provide naloxone to first responders and community members;
• Support the implementation of Washington State’s Good Samaritan Overdose law;
• Support the continuum of service for opioid-dependent persons, including medication assisted treatment;
• Conduct public education to reduce the stigma of substance use disorders;
• Support prevention, treatment, and intervention and recovery services while maintaining public safety; and
• Break down barriers between enforcement, prevention, treatment professionals and public health.

The summit will convene May 5, 2015 from 9:00am to 3:00pm at the Student Union Building (SURC), Central Washington University,  400 E. University Way, Ellensburg, WA, 98926. Attendance is free, but advance registration is required. Please review the attached announcement for additional information.

Summit Committee Co-Chair Caleb Banta-Green, PhD, MSW, MPH, University of Washington ADAI and Summit presenter Penny Legate, Parent and Former KIRO-TV Reporter and Evening Magazine host, will be available for media interviews between 12:00pm and 1:00pm in the SURC Room 273.

Day of the event Public Information Officer:

Barb Arnott
Public Affairs Coordinator
Central Washington University

For additional information please contact:

Susan Kingston                                                                       
Center for Opioid Safety Education                                        
UW ADAI                                                                                

Sheriff Steven R. Tomson (ret.)
Law Enforcement Coordination Chief
United States Attorney’s Office, EDWA

Updated April 29, 2015