Jessica Cejnar / Friday, June 19, 2020 @ 1:12 p.m. / Community, Health

Tribal, Community Health Partners to Host Virtual Opioid Abuse Summit, Naloxone Training and Distribution

Courtesy of Rx Safe Del Norte

Several coalitions combatting opioid abuse in the region will host a virtual summit focusing on medicated treatment, alternative pain management techniques and the journey to recovery.

Rx Safe Del Norte’s Wellness and Recovery Series is for those struggling with opioid dependency as well as their caregivers and loved ones, said facilitator Jermaine Brubaker. It’s also for healthcare professionals, youth and the public in general, she said.

“We’re really hoping to break a lot of stigma and bust some myths and really educate people about, not only opioid use disorder, but harm reduction, wellness, recovery, and opioid alternatives for pain management,” Brubaker told the Wild Rivers Outpost.

Rx Safe Del Norte is partnering with Open Door, United Indian Health Services, the Yurok Tribe’s Health and Human Services department and Wellness Coalition and the California Indian Health Board.

The coalition and its partners had initially planned an opioid summit, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic they moved it into the virtual realm — hosting activities via Zoom and Facebook Live on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from June 30 to July 30. To register, click here.

According to Brubaker, the Yurok Health and Human Services department will host activities for youth from 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Wednesdays. Wednesday afternoons will also focus on pain management alternatives to opioid use such as self-massage, stretching, guided meditation and yoga, she said.

Tuesdays and Thursdays will include speakers touching on topics from medicated-assisted treatment, pregnancy as well as training on the use of Naloxone to curtail an opioid overdose, Brubaker said.

“We’ll have live movie showings and discussions for people on how to advocate for non-opioid relief with your medical provider,” she said. “It’s going to be a little bit for everybody.”

In Del Norte County, those struggling with opioid use disorder are most likely to be 35 years old or older and addicted to prescription drugs, Brubaker said. In 2017, there were 33,000 opioid prescriptions in Del Norte County, population 27,000, she said.

“2018 wasn’t that much better; we haven’t seen 2019 yet," Brubaker said. “I had a conversation with Chief (Richard) Griffin the other day and heard rumors that Fentanyl had made it to the community. He said, yes we do have Fentanyl and I gave them 100 test strips so they know what they’re dealing with as well.”

Crescent City Police Chief Richard Griffin confirmed that his officers have confiscated small amounts of heroin, sent it to the California Department of Justice for testing and found out that it was laced with Fentanyl. These seizures occurred about two months ago, Griffin told the Outpost on Friday.

“I think one was a gram and the other one was a little bit less than a gram,” he said. “They were possession amounts; they weren’t sales amounts.”

According to Griffin, much of the heroin he and his officers find in the community come from Humboldt County and “theirs come from down south,” though he couldn’t say exactly where. He said his officers have also run into several instances that required the use of Naloxone to reverse an overdose, but he couldn’t contribute it directly to Fentanyl.

Griffin said he will be using the Fentanyl test kits Rx Safe Del Norte provided sparingly. He has also used Naloxone kits Rx Safe Del Norte provided to his department and added that the coalition is working on getting a drug incinerator for the department to help with disposal.

Griffin said he and his officers are also doing outreach to inform those who are drug users that Fentanyl is in the community.

“I personally let regular heroin users I’ve come across know to be careful — at least know your source,” he said. “(I also let them know), ‘Hey, you shouldn’t be using heroin to begin with.’ It’s kind of a hard thing.”

Brubaker said the Wellness and Recovery Series will also push Naloxone training. This includes a Naloxone Challenge, she said.

“It’s basically like a Pass the Brush viral video using an opioid reversal kit,” she said. “People get the kit in their every day life and block out the camera with the kit that shows you the wellness or medicine you do every day.”

According to Brubaker, Naloxone is required to be included with an opioid prescription. Those who are using Suboxone to treat opioid use disorder should also be given a Naloxone prescription, she said.

In addition to working with the Yurok Tribe Wellness Coalition on hosting the wellness series, Brubaker said both coalitions are putting together a 30-minute Naloxone training video on You Tube.

Those who watch the video will also be asked to participate in a quiz and provide their address so Rx Safe Del Norte can deliver Naloxone kits to them, Brubaker said. So far, Rx Safe Del Norte have distributed 350 kits.

“With the Yurok Tribe and us, we have a goal of 1,500 kits this year,” she said. “And we have enough in-house and we want it to get it out to everybody, which is one of the reasons why we’re doing this video.”

For more information about the Wellness and Recovery Series, click here.


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