FINDING HOPE: 6 On Your Side's town hall forum dissects opioid epidemic and how to combat it

Posted at 7:14 PM, Nov 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-16 09:50:44-05

Presented by Optum, a live, two-hour, town hall forum aired on the 6 On Your Side app, Facebook page, and website Thursday.

"You need to be a part of this conversation online right now. We want to hear your stories. We want to hear your comments and questions," said 6 On Your Side's Michelle Edmonds.

6 On Your Side's Edmonds and Karen Lehr led an introspective discussion on the opioid epidemic, including law enforcement officials.

"We have seen people that the first illegal drug they ever used in their life was heroin," said Capt. Eric Dayley, Idaho State Police.

Officials also presented new pilot programs, such as, "medication-assisted treatment through Terry Reilly services, and that would be a daily dose of Suboxone," said Greg Lewis, Probation and Parole at Idaho Department of Correction.

Ada County Coroner Dotti Owens said the major player in so many of these cases is prescription drugs.

"We're just to the point where it's almost as common to us internally as someone who dies of natural causes," said Owens.

Medical providers discussed distribution and control.

"Pharmacists now actually have the ability to prescribe Naloxone, which can save a life-- it can reverse an opioid overdose," said Dr. Cathy Oliphant, Idaho State Pharmacy School.

And even a recovering addict, Cassidy Mendoza, graciously reflected on her own experiences.

"People are alone out there, driving to go get the pills, or whatever-- going to get high-- and, someone needs to stop and say 'I love you, you're worth it, let's do this, let's do it together, no matter how long it takes,'" said Mendoza.

Participants reiterated, that where there is support, there is hope.

"If you have that support network for a population, and you're, you're serving various needs, you're gonna have those better outcomes," said Lewis.