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Clackamas outpaces other counties in pain perscriptions as nation faces opioid epidemic

Clackamas County officials are ramping up efforts to destigmatize drug addiction in an effort to save lives with two events to kick off the new year. Clackamas County officials have designed billboards promoting a medication to reverse opioid overdoses appearing at locations along busy highways in Clackamas County.

"We can no longer afford to treat addiction as a moral failing," said Chief Deputy Jenna Morrison of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, who wants everyone to clearly understand how each of us could one day experience addiction. "Our citizens are dying of a disease we can treat."

As previously reported, county officials have designed billboards promoting a medication to reverse opioid overdoses appearing at locations along busy highways in Clackamas County. A nationwide crisis, deaths from opiods — including prescription opioids and heroin — have increased more than five times since 1999.

Dr. Andrew Suchocki, the county's medical director, mentioned that progress has been made over the past few years in reducing the number of deaths from opioids, but Clackamas County still outpaces the state and other metro counites in the number of opioid perscriptions. Paul Modesitt, a recovering heroin addict and now an alcohol and drug counselor for the county, also spoke on a recent Canby Now Podcast to promote the awareness efforts.

"Not Just Naloxone: Community Workshop" attendees will learn from experts how to reduce the risk of harm from opioid medications, and experience a hands-on session on how to administer naloxone, an overdose antidote. Free naloxone kits will be available to registrants.

The Jan. 8 event is geared for community members, business owners, city councilors, law enforcement and anyone who would like to know more about how to reduce overdose rates in Clackamas County and the broader community. County officials are partnering with Clackamas Fire, the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office and Northwest Family Services on the project.

"It's so wonderful to see champions working together across systems to increase awareness on the devastating effects of opioids on our community," said Apryl Herron, the health program coordinator at Clackamas County. "We've been able to share resources across our organizations in addition to a shared passion for preventing substance use and supporting those in recovery."

Another free community event on Jan. 30 aims to help increase community understanding about pain and opioids, in the midst of the opioid crisis. Experts will share information on potential treatment options for persistent pain, the risks and limits of opioid usage for pain, and how to advocate for needs around pain management.  

Not Just Naloxone

What: Workshop attendees will learn from experts how to reduce the risk of harm from opioid medications. Free naloxone kits will be available to registrants.

When: 1-3 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 8,

Where: Clackamas County's Development Service Building Auditorium, 150 Beavercreek Road, Oregon City

Online: Workshop information and required registration is available at clackamas.us/events?k=naloxone.

Get antidote: To arrange pick up of free naloxone or for more information, call 503-722-6199 or visit 2219 Kaen Road, Oregon City, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Next up: Clackamas County Community Forum on Pain and Opioids with take place 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Jan. 30 at the Providence Willamette Falls Education Center.


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