Opioid Summit brings together experts


By Sue Cody

Addiction becomes a personal story when you put a face on it. And it was a personal story that kicked off the fourth annual Opioid and Substance Use Summit in Seaside on Oct. 14.

When a 17-year-old athlete was subscribed opioids for an injury sustained in a football game, no one thought it would lead to a heroin addiction. But that was the beginning of a seven-year battle for Knappa’s Jordan Strickland, who died of an accidental heroin overdose at age 24.

2019 Opioid Summit - Jordans Hope

Jordan’s story was shared with Summit attendees by his mother, Kerry Strickland. She is the founder of Jordan’s Hope for Recovery (www.jordanshope.org), an organization that offers education and support services for recovery from alcohol and substance use disorders.

Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization (CPCCO) sponsors the Opioid and Substance Use Summit with the goal of building a trauma-informed network for all substance use disorders. The summit is a unique opportunity to hear about successes and challenges around substance use disorders from different standpoints, from community members like Strickland, to experts in health care, brain science, recovery, education, law enforcement and first responders.

Breakout sessions offer insight and inspiration

Twelve breakout sessions provided Summit attendees with information on drug use, trauma-informed care, Medical Assisted Treatment, harm reduction, drug courts, talking to teens, and housing and community responses, among other topics.

In one session, Dr. David Labby of Health Share of Oregon discussed how looking at substance use disorders through a trauma-informed lens, and taking into consideration one’s adverse childhood experiences, leads to better outcomes. 

Later, Alison Noice, executive director of CODA (www.codainc.org) – Oregon’s oldest opioid treatment program – addressed the Opioid Treatment Program (OTP) and how it helps. She pointed out that both medication management and counseling can lead to a path of recovery. An OTP clinic will open later this fall in Seaside.

2019 Opioid Summit - Safina KoreishiSafina Koreishi, medical director of CPCCO, talked about Clatsop County’s Harm Reduction program, a partnership between Jordan’s Hope for Recovery and the county health department. The program meets people on the street and offers information and recovery resources, along with a safe needle exchange, in a nonjudgmental way. It also offers naloxone and training for its use in overdose situations.

Harm Reduction has saved lives, reduced disease and gives those with a substance use disorder encouragement to reach out for treatment, noted Kerry Strickland. The life-changing program is now expanding to Columbia County.

There are challenges to overcome, but there’s also hope

The Summit covered many very important topics. But the overall message was that we can do a better job of helping people recover if we:

  • Work to reduce the stigma surrounding alcohol and substance use disorders
  • Change the language we use to talk about the disorders
  • Truly listen to people
  • And treat people with an understanding of the trauma in their lives

There is still lots work to be done, but by sharing ideas, strategies and hope, “I believe that together we can make a difference,” said Strickland to Summit attendees. “Thank you for being here today and being an active participant in the solution.”

Koreishi summed up the mood of the Summit best: “It’s been really humbling and inspiring to see all of the people who lead this work in the community.”

For more information on coastal resources for alcohol and substance use disorders, such as meetings, treatment centers and counseling, see www.jordanshope.org.