Snohomish County begins forums on heroin and opioid crisis

KING 5's Heather Graf reports

LAKE STEVENS, Wash. - The first of four community forums in Snohomish County focused on addressing the heroin and opioid problem began Thursday night.

Dr. Gary Goldbaum with the Snohomish Health District said that the goal of the evening is to make sure everyone understands the magnitude of crisis the county is facing.

“Here in Snohomish County we’re actually bearing perhaps more of the problem than other parts of Washington state,” Dr. Goldbaum said. “We’ve got about a 10th of the population but almost 20 percent of the opioid overdose deaths for the state.”

The Snohomish Health District and Snohomish County Human Services are putting on the forums. Organizers say they want everyone to understand that this is not someone else’s problem.

“This is a problem that really is affecting the entire community. It’s not a matter of, ‘Oh this is a problem affecting those folks on the other side of the tracks,” Dr. Goldbaum said. “This is affecting all ages, all income brackets, all age ethnicities, this is not a problem that is not just a problem of somebody else, it’s a problem that’s affecting almost every family in Snohomish County.”

Related: King County task force releasing heroin battle plan

Related: Kindergarten student brings 30 packs of heroin to school

The heroin and opioid crisis is affecting crime, schools, and the jail in the county. It has a far reach.

“I think the most important thing for all of us is to understand our role that we play in this,” Lake Stevens City Council President Sam Low said. “Whether we’re elected officials, whether we’re parents, whether we’re friends or whether we’re neighbors we all have a role in this.”

Lindsey Greinke was among the many stakeholders who took part in the first forum on Thursday evening.  She's a former addict who has been clean and sober for the last five years.  Now, she helps guide addicts and their families through the recovery process with a non-profit she founded called Hope Soldiers.

"I want people to know there is hope for anyone that's battling something," she said.  "Our mission is to bring awareness, restore hope, and love people back to life."

Greinke says she know from experience that drug addiction can destroy families and lives.

"It literally took everything from me.  Like I had to sign over temporary custody of my son, I lost my condo, I lost my job, and I lost the relationships that I had, especially with my family," she recalls.  "And bringing more education and awareness is the key because there are so many people who still have no idea what is going on in this county."

If you couldn't make the first forum there are three others. All of them will take place within the next month.

September 15 – Cavelero Mid High School, Lake Stevens

September 20 – Tulalip Resort, Tulalip

September 27 – Byrnes Performing Arts Center, Arlington

 October 13 – Edmonds Community College

Copyright 2016 KING


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