Inslee wants to spend millions to fight opioid epidemic

OLYMPIA, Wash. — It’s a fight against an epidemic that is killing more people than car accidents.

Gov. Jay  Inslee overall wants to invest $15 million into fighting the opioid epidemic.

But the money won’t go toward ‘Just Say No’ abstinence programs.  Instead, the plan expands access to medications.

The proposal calls for increasing the supply of Naloxone without a prescription.

Naloxone is a drug that reverses an opioid overdose.

The governor's plan also calls for spending millions on prevention, such as  prescription monitoring and encouraging alternative medications to pain pills.

At  Monday’s news conference, Inslee also talked in depth about increasing MAT, or medication assisted treatment, to help addicts beat the cravings.

Many state department chiefs talked about the impact to the state. And a mother who lost a son recently to an overdose also spoke up.

“My son Kyle overdosed 99 days ago after being sober and successful for two and half years,” Shannie Jenkins said.

Jenkins said her son was fighting the demons of addiction for about 10 years after trying OxyContin for the first time as a young man. She says it changed his brain.

“We have to remove the moral and judgment-laden terms, how addiction should only be treated by abstinence -- this is a true medical condition and diagnose called opiod use disorder,” Inslee said.

Other speakers talked about changing the rules to dental care, requiring dentists to prescribe fewer pain pills to children and teenagers.

All of the proposed changes will have to be approved by the Legislature.

One encouraging news is that the first half of 2017 saw a 15% fewer overdose deaths in the state than the same time the year before.

State leaders say that’s because the changes they have already made are working but they still have a very long way to go.