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SARA gains momentum in opioid addiction fight

April 13, 2018 | The Siskiyou Daily News

Siskiyou Against Rx Addiction, leader of a community-based collaboration to tackle the opioid epidemic, will receive support to bolster its capacity to reduce new opioid prescriptions, advocate for safe pain management and effective treatment, and challenge stigma and misconceptions surrounding addiction.

The support, which is being provided to regional coalitions throughout the state, comes through the California Opioid Safety Network.

“As a community, we can come together to solve this problem,” said SARA Facilitator, Maggie Shepard. “Tackling this epidemic will take people with a great range of perspectives and experience, and that’s the kind of movement we’re building here.”

Funded by the California HealthCare Foundation and managed by Public Health Institute’s Center for Health Leadership and Practice, COSN will provide resources and tools to support SARA in forging a truly local response to the crisis. The momentum comes largely from dedicated volunteers – members of the medical community, pharmacists, professionals in public health, mental health, and law enforcement, as well as those in recovery - striving together to take concrete steps to prevent and treat addiction and save lives.

Members of SARA meet regularly to share their experience and insights and decide how to implement strategies that are showing promise here or in other parts of the country.

The Coalition has chosen to focus on implementing collective actions in the areas of public education, safe prescribing, access to naloxone and medication assisted treatment, and policy work.

SARA began to take the lead in forging a proactive community response to the opioid crisis in the fall of 2016. Early achievements include winning consensus for safer prescribing guidelines, which are now in place at multiple health centers and practices throughout the county. SARA has been instrumental in achieving a fourfold increase in the number of medical providers who hold an X-license, which allows a provider to prescribe opioid-based medications specifically for the treatment of opioid addiction. With SARA’s support, the sheriff’s office has trained and equipped all law enforcement personnel in the county with naloxone (Narcan), a life-saving opioid overdose reversal drug. SARA is also a co-sponsor of the bi-annual Drug Take Back Day, held the last Saturday in April and October. In 2017 alone, 946 pounds of medication were collected. Siskiyou County Behavioral Health has provided the funding for 10 permanent drug drop bins that will soon be installed throughout the county. SARA works hard to educate all members of the community so that addiction is viewed and treated as a chronic, relapsing disease instead of a moral failing.

At the statewide level, the California death rate has not declined for the last two years, but it is holding steady.

Continue reading the full article in The Siskiyou Daily News.