Senator McGuire, Supervisor Bass announce $4.8 million for opioid addiction treatment center

EUREKA – Supervisor Virginia Bass and state Senator Mike McGuire made a big announcement to address a growing problem in Humboldt County, the opioid crisis.
“Humboldt County has some of the highest addiction rates in the entire state of California,” said 2nd District State Senator Mike McGuire.
California Department of Public Health says prescription rates for opioids are 80% to 90% higher than the statewide average.
Humboldt County has five times as many overdoses, twice as many hospitalizations and five times the number of overdose deaths.
But what’s being done about it?
It was standing room only Tuesday night at the Sequoia Conference Center in Eureka where senator McGuire and supervisor Virginia Bass held a town hall on California’s opioid crisis. “People are affected in different ways whether it’s businesses who are really being impacted by theft and needles or people who you have no idea have family members involved in this issue.”
The event began with a representative from the California Department of Health Care Services framing addiction as a medical issue rather than a law enforcement one. Senator McGuire said, “We cannot arrest our way out of this crisis. What we need to be able to do is work together and open up additional treatment centers.”
Senator McGuire announced that the county will receive 4.8 million dollars in federal grant funding to establish an opioid addiction health center. Aegis is the largest provider of drug treatment services in the state and will operate the facility when its doors open next year. “There is a desperate need for additional space for treatment of addiction,” McGuire explained.
During a question and answer session a panel of local health experts shared their perspectives on the root causes of addiction, effective treatment options, and barriers to getting help.
Some of the more than 400 in attendance expressed concern about impacts to the economy, young and an alarming increase in discarded needles in public places.
McGuire urged, “We need to be able to address the danger to residents and that’s needles on the streets.”
Supervisor Bass said that needle disposal kiosks will be installed in eureka as a first step to cut down on the problem. She also urged the community to stick together and be patient as solutions are developed. “It’s not a magic solution immediately. It’s going to take time. So I’m thinking while it’s taking some time you’re still going to see issues.”
Bass and McGuire stressed that this is only the start of the conversation.
“Now we just have to keep it going. It’s a painful conversation though. It’s not a happy one,” Bass said.
McGuire added, “There is no silver bullet. We have to be truthful about that. There’s a lot of work ahead of us.”
Senator McGuire and Supervisor Bass will schedule another town hall meeting to follow up on Tuesday night’s discussion in February or March of next year.