EDITOR’S NOTE: Substance Use Disorder (SUDS) and Opioids Use Disorder (OUD) have impacted many families in Tillamook County – from accidental overdoses to arrests and jail sentences. OUR Tillamook is making a difference with programs and trainings, tools and support. We can help by removing the stigma of drug addiction. It’s a disease and often people are suffering from other issues such as depression or anxiety. We are going to #endstigma by sharing the stories of addicts and their families. If you or someone you know has a story about how addiction has impacted their life, please email to firstname.lastname@example.org. There is hope and help.
It is estimated that 1,700 people in Tillamook County live with opioid use disorder(OUD).
Due to this local need, OUR Tillamook – Opioid Use Response for Tillamook County – was established to provide coordinated OUD support, resources and programs in Tillamook County made possible by HRSA grants.
The OUR Tillamook consortium brings local organizations in healthcare, behavioral health, law enforcement, homeless services, addiction recovery, advocacy, education and government together in responding to the opioid crisis in Tillamook County. Each member brings an area of specialty to the team. Together the group has aligned and implemented activities to serve as many individuals as possible in the community.
In the last six months, the group collaborated in providing many new programs and supporting existing programs:
•Prime Plus peer support has recently launched to connect those with substance use disorder (SUD)/opioid use disorder (OUD) looking to start their recovery journey with helpful resources and support. To connect with a peer or learn more about the program call Michele Riggs at 503-815-5406. Prime Plus is a program of Tillamook Family Counseling Center.
•Free community naloxone and training has been made available to law enforcement, educators and community members in Tillamook County. Nasal naloxone supply will vary with grants available. If you are interested in getting a nasal naloxone kit contact Mareliza de Jesus at Adventist Health Tillamook.
•A new needle exchange program has recently started. Trade in old for new every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month from 11am-1pm in CARE Inc.’s lower parking lot, organized by Tillamook County Community Health Centers.
•A community behavioral health and OUD resource guide was created naming organizations, groups and other resources available in Tillamook County and surrounding areas.
•Medication Assisted Treatment is available at the Rinehart Clinic, Tillamook County Community Health Centers, and now Adventist Health Tillamook. This service can help folks with OUD start their recovery journey. Speak to your provider to see if this is a good option for you.
•The first, free mental health first aid training was offered in April through OSU. Future trainings are being scheduled for this fall.
•Proper drug disposal is currently available at Rinehart Clinic and Pharmacy, Tillamook County Sheriff’s Office and Tillamook Police Department. Programs are being supported and the consortium is looking to expand availability.
•Provider education on best practices in prescribing have been offered across the county. Providers from Tillamook County Community Health Center, Rinehart Clinic, Tillamook Family Counseling Center and Adventist Health Tillamook attended and participated in presentations and panels.
Future plans for OUR Tillamook include working to address stigma through hometown informational interviews, increasing required training for healthcare workers, and introducing community activities such as free movie nights featuring SUD/OUD related movies. The consortium also plans to launch a website – OURTillamook.org – this June which will offer consolidated resource and training guides for individuals with SUD/OUD, families and community members impacted by SUD/OUD and public service professionals.
Since forming in 2019, OUR Tillamook has created a needs assessment* which identified gaps and opportunities in Tillamook County’s access to addiction treatment and recovery. There were three categories identified: 1) Harm Reduction and Education, 2) Pain Management and Prescribing Practices, 3) Therapy and Recovery. From these key areas, the consortium created a collaborative and sustainable community plan to address the needs Tillamook County faces.
One of the biggest challenges and priorities is to serve people where they are. Living in a rural location, there are many barriers to treatment such as transportation, financial restrictions, language, culture and safety. The consortium is working together to create a mobile healthcare team to address these obstacles. Many of the group’s members have already implemented parts of this plan but still have barriers that keep our most vulnerable population from receiving help in non-traditional settings.
OUR Tillamook and its work were established thanks to two Rural Communities Opioid Response Program grants through HRSA which have supported development and implementation of the countywide strategic plan to address SUD/OUD. This award along with additional grants will fund work over the next three years to address SUD/OUD in Tillamook County and implement key strategies identified by this group.
This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Huma Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $1 million with 100 percent funded by HRSA/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views or, nor an endorsement, by HRSA/HHS, or the U.S. Government.
*Here is a link to the story about the needs assessment from December 2019 – https://www.tillamookcountypioneer.net/tillamook-county-partners-complete-opioid-use-needs-assessment/