FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — The King County Council is considering a resolution that would declare fentanyl a public health crisis, directing the executive to make recommendations to King County Public Health about addressing it.
Meanwhile, local health providers say they are seeing an increase in need for treatment of substance use disorders involving fentanyl, and are hopeful new locations will make it easier for people to seek help.
Ideal Option, which offers medication-assisted treatment for opioids, alcohol and other substance use disorders, says its seen a significant increase in patients seeking treatment for fentanyl. It just opened a new clinic in Federal Way.
"First they will get assessed by a counselor and see what's needed there and then I will assess them and my main job honestly is to support the patient in their road of sobriety," Martha Bankhead with Ideal Option said. "We are here, we're open, we're non-judgmental, we're low-barrier, basically my main job is to help and support you, anyway I can."
Peer Outreach Specialist Rebekah Cantrell says she believes increasing access to treatment is key to giving people the help they need when they are willing to receive it.
"A lot of times when you want to get into treatment, you're ready for treatment, it's not available that day," Cantrell said. "This disease- when we are feeling ready- we have to get in now."
Cantrell has lived experience with addiction and says she is celebrating three years of sobriety. Along with treatment, she helps patients access wraparound services, like finding housing, transportation and behavioral healthcare.
"Bridging that gap for people because when they get into recovery, get into treatment, now what? That's kind of my job as a peer outreach specialist," Cantrell said. "Not only to be able to spend those first few days with the patient, and help them get those supportive services, I'm that support with them, I humanize them, because oftentimes you're coming into treatment and you don't even feel like a human anymore because of how society has made you feel."
Ideal Option takes Medicare, Medicaid and most other forms of insurance and patients can typically begin treatments for fentanyl, heroin, alcohol and other substances within 1-3 business days. Patients can walk in at the new clinic in Federal Way, or make an appointment at one of its other locations.
Bankhead and Cantrell say they encourage patients to seek help.
"We are not going to look down on you, we are going to support you, we are going to praise you- because it takes a lot of courage to get help," Cantrell said.