Program to battle opioid addiction in Valley welcome | Editorials

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The nation’s opioid crisis is real. And it extends to the Walla Walla Valley. We simply can’t ignore this horrific reality.

 The addiction to opioids — OxyContin, Vicodin and heroin, for example — can start with the seemingly innocent use of prescription pain killers. It’s a powerful and deadly path.

But getting help can be difficult for a variety of reasons, starting with finding treatment.

A new program in Walla Walla is underway that offers hope and treatment for those who want it.

The Opioid Resource Network, which is being run locally through Blue Mountain Heart to Heart, offers medication-assisted treatment for those addicted to opioids.

Given the great success Heart to Heart has had with helping HIV and AIDS patients and its needle exchange program, we have confidence that Executive Director Everett Maroon and the others involved will provide the kind of assistance that will save lives.

The Opioid Resource Network project started June 28 in concert with a regonal program, Consistent Care, after receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants.

Those seeking treatment can make contact in person at Heart to Heart, located at the Community Service Center on Kelly Place, or by calling the toll-free number for Consistent Care — 888-891-0027.

A person with addiction in Walla Walla might go the Heart to Heart office to see physician assistant Nadean Pulfer, who is qualified to write prescriptions. There, after being evaluated, that person would be prescribed medications such as buprenorphine/naloxone or other medications aimed at curbing the addiction by attaching to the brain’s receptors for several days, which partially block opioids.

Blue Mountain Heart to Heart already had patients in the program, Maroon said, as they had contact through its syringe exchange.

Medication is only one part of the process in helping those with addiction. This is why an organization like Heart to Heart, which can provide support, is essential to success.  But, Maroon said, this and other programs only work if the addicted person wants sobreity.

“We just try to remove as many barriers as possible to help increase the likelihood of sobriety,” Maroon said. “The way opioid addiction works is you have recovery, then relapse, recovery, and relapse. … They just need somebody to help them along the way.”

The Opioid Resource Network, like all such programs, is not a panacea. Yet, given the solid record of success of Heart to Heart, this program is highly likely to help many in this Valley. 

Editorials are the opinion of the Union-Bulletin’s Editorial Board. The board is composed of Brian Hunt, Rick Eskil, James Blethen and Alasdair Stewart

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