NARCAN isn’t enough to save addicts

The Washington County Health Department distributes NARCAN to first responders and to private citizens in Washington County. NARCAN counteracts the effects of opioids, so it often saves the life of someone suffering from an overdose of heroin. A life-threatening overdose is sometimes the key event that causes an addict to seek help to break their addiction.

Unfortunately, by itself, NARCAN is not much help. It just doesn’t work to tell an addict that we might be able to get him or her into treatment next month sometime. The pull of drugs is just too strong. Without sufficient treatment options within the county to quickly place addicts, we have lost our opportunity to help someone get clean. NARCAN is an essential component for a comprehensive program aimed at breaking addictions, but Washington County is sadly lacking in the other components needed for such a program.

I would like to urge voters to support the Behavioral Health Levy in order to build a comprehensive program that addresses both treatment and prevention. I have met many former addicts in many areas of our country who have become valuable contributors to society. There is much more value in the lives of those we can help than the small amount we all have to pay to make this happen.

Dr. Richard Wittberg

Washington County Health Commissioner