Bonamici Convenes Discussion in Washington County about Opioid Crisis
BEAVERTON, OR – Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) convened a discussion about the opioid crisis with Washington County Commissioner Bob Terry, Sheriff Pat Garrett, health care providers, social service providers, and people in recovery. This was the fifth discussion the Congresswoman has convened on the opioid crisis, following similar events in Multnomah, Columbia, Clatsop, and Yamhill counties. Earlier in the day, Bonamici toured LifeWorks Northwest, an addiction treatment and behavioral health care provider.
“In every part of the district I represent, I have heard from people who are struggling with addiction and people desperate to get help for loved ones,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “Seniors, parents, professionals, young students—no one seems to be immune. It is past time for us to recognize that addiction is a disease, not a moral failing. To break the cycle of addiction we need to bring together health care providers, treatment providers, law enforcement, and people in recovery. There is no single solution. Local, state, and federal officials must cooperate to address this crisis.”
“I am so pleased that Congresswoman Bonamici has convened this meeting to discuss a topic that is critical for people and families in Washington County,” said Washington County Commissioner Bob Terry. “Opioid addiction is a devastating issue that impacts our families, and is costly both in terms of lives and our economy.”
“The opioid epidemic is such a large challenge for our community in Washington County,” said Marni Kuyl, RN, MS, the Director of Health and Human Services for Washington County. “The only way we will be able to address this crisis is to collaborate with our elected officials, local law enforcement, treatment providers, public health, and health care systems. The ongoing support from Congresswoman Bonamici is critical to ensuring people and families receive the services and support they need. Anyone can become addicted, so this affects all of us and we must all work together.”
“This is an ‘all hands on deck’ moment in the opioid epidemic," said Tim Hartnett, Executive Director of CODA, Inc., a not-for-profit behavioral health care provider serving clients in Washington, Multnomah, and Clackamas counties. "Substance use disorders are the single biggest challenge to Oregon’s families and communities. This public health challenge will be with us for decades to come. It demands that we rethink our entire approach to the issue of substance abuse. Health care, neighborhood associations, law enforcement, social services, schools, faith communities and all who help bind our communities together must take a fresh look at using prevention, stigma reduction and proven treatment models to save lives. This demands tireless cooperation between us, and willingness to bring creative and forward-thinking proposals to the table and stay there for as long as it takes.”
More than two dozen people joined the discussion, including representatives from LifeWorks Northwest, Providence Health and Services, Health Share of Oregon, Kaiser Permanente, Oregon Pediatric Society, Neighborhood Health Center, Tualatin Together, CODA, Inc., Bridges to Change, and Oregon Recovers.
The Congresswoman supports several pieces of legislation designed to address the opioid crisis:
- The Addiction Treatment Access Improvement Act, HR 3692, to expand medication-assisted treatment;
- The STOP OD Act, HR 664, to expand prevention, promote treatment and recovery, and provide training and equipment for Naloxone; and
- The Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention Act, HR 1057, to better screen foreign illegal opioid imports;
- The Opioid Immediate Suspension Order Act, HR 4073, to restore the ability of the Department of Justice to respond to the growing opioid crisis; and
- Supported $1.6 billion for opioid response in the last two years and has called for additional investments in these programs.