Substance abuse discussion helps identify needs in Clatsop County


By Sue Cody

Community leaders, health care professionals and community members gathered March 21 in Astoria to discuss substance abuse in Clatsop County. The Northwest Regional Substance Use Committee asked: “What does unhealthy drug and alcohol use and addiction look like in your county? What services are available to prevent or treat addiction? What keeps people from accessing substance abuse services? What’s missing?”

W2W Substance abuse Alan Evans 1

Alan Evans, founder of Helping Hands Reentry Outreach Centers, and Sarah Mitchell, prescription drug overdose coordinator for the Clatsop County, facilitated the meeting.

After lively discussions between recovery service providers, health care professionals, recovering addicts, public officials, business owners, parents, media and Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization representatives, the conclusion was that the drug abuse problem far outweighs the resources.

Here are some of the findings:
What does drug and alcohol use and addition look like in Clatsop County?

• It is not the prototypical homeless person
• It is our children
• It is parents
• It is friends and colleagues
• 31 percent of 11th graders had smoked marijuana in the 30 days prior to a 2017 survey

What services are available?
• Helping Hands
• Jordan’s Hope for Recovery
• Awakenings by the Sea
• Klean
• Rosebriar
• Astoria Pointe
• North Coast Recovery
• AA, NA, Al-anon, Alano Club
• Choices Counseling
• Clatsop Behavioral Health
• County Health Department Harm Reduction Program

What keeps people from accessing substance abuse services?
• Shame
• Transportation
• Housing for pets
• Waiting lists
• Access to resources
• Addiction
• Distrust
• Lack of detox beds
• Effects on career
• Funding
• Denial
• Peer use
• Stigma
• Education
• Mental health, dual diagnoses
• Drinking culture

What gaps do you see in substance use services?
• Detox services
• Care for OHP patients
• Aftercare
• Social outlets for sober living
• Education 
• Insurance
• Isolation
• Family programs
• Mental health

Information was shared about ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and the trauma-informed network that works to treat with compassion and understanding people who’ve experienced childhood trauma.
Similar community conversations on substance abuse are also being held in Tillamook and Columbia counties.

A Community Conversation on Housing will be held March 26, 5–7 p.m., Room 219, Clatsop Community College. Alan Evans will present information for plans at Helping Hands Reentry Outreach Center’s newly acquired housing project in Astoria. 

The third annual Northwest Opioid & Substance Abuse Summit will be held April 23-24 at the Seaside Convention Center. The summit offers information and discussion about trauma-informed care and encourages collaboration to de-stigmatize addiction.