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Youth Programs
Mental Health
Substance Use
Youth Programs
Mental Health
Substance Use

Weekly Check-Ins By Phone

woman answering phone call

During the coronavirus|covid-19 pandemic we want to minimize the risk of exposure and infection for our patients and staff. At the same time, we know you, like everyone else, are anxious, afraid and depressed. We want to continue to provide you with the recovery support you need and help you feel connected at this extraordinary time.

Beginning Wednesday, March 25 your counselor will be making weekly check-in calls to you via the phone number we have listed in your patient record.

Make Sure We Have the Right Number

If you need to update your phone number, please call the main number of If you need to update your phone number, please call the main number of your clinic location (click here to go to our “Locations” page) and our staff will update your patient record.

Take the Call

The call from your counselor may appear as “blocked” or “private.” If you do not answer the counselor will leave a message for you.

Schedule a Phone Appointment

You can make an appointment for a telephone check-in by calling the main number of your clinic. Phone numbers for each location are on our Locations page here. When you call, press “0” to speak to a front desk person who will schedule a time for your counselor to give you a call.

Be safe and stay well!

Stay Up-to-date on Our Response to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Outbreak
These are uncertain times and news about the outbreak is constantly changing, but you don’t have to worry about what THS is doing, how our services are impacted and what effect that has on your care. Click the button below to go to our THS Service Updates – Coronavirus (Covid-19) page. We’re including all updates to care at THS on this page, along with what we’re doing to preserve the health and safety of our patients.

Therapeutic Health Services cares deeply about the health of our patients and of our community. We will be posting information as needed regarding any changes in program and service delivery at THS related to coronavirus (covid-19). Our goal is to keep our patients safe and provide the care they need. Please remember to watch our website’s Services Updates page (https://ths-wa.org/news-events/ths-service-updates-coronavirus-covid-19/) page for any changes in service. We will post on our website if there are any changes to daily dosing.

Temperatures

All patients and staff must have their temperature checked upon entering the building. All individuals with a fever or other symptoms will be provided a mask and will receive their dose individually in an alternate office. If you feel sick in the morning before you come to the clinic, please call ahead and notify our staff so you can receive instructions for when you arrive at the clinic. We will make sure our staff are ready to receive you and  ensure you get your medication safely. The branch phone numbers are listed here and on our Google Business listings.

Social Distancing

To protect everyone, all patients and staff are requested to observe a social distance of six feet. For patients in line waiting to receive medication, we have marked out the distance to stand apart on the floor at each of our locations.

Medication

In this uncertain and rapidly changing time, we want all of our medication-assisted treatment (MAT) patients to know that they will receive their medication. Our medical staff are evaluating patients for temporary or increased carries.  Please follow any instructions given by nursing staff when you receive your medication.

All MAT Patients, please remember to bring your lock box to the clinic on your next visit.

Please remember to watch our website’s News & Events (https://ths-wa.org/news-events/) page for any changes in service. We will post on our website if there are any changes to daily dosing.

Emergency or Crisis Help

If you are experiencing a medical or other emergency, Call 911 immediately.

If you are in crisis and need help you can call the King County Crisis Line at  206-461-3222or 1-866-4CRISIS (1-866-427-4747).

In Snohomish County, please call 2-1-1 or the Care Crisis Line at 1-800-584-3578 to get help.

Stay Up-to-date on Our Response to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Outbreak
These are uncertain times and news about the outbreak is constantly changing, but you don’t have to worry about what THS is doing, how our services are impacted and what effect that has on your care. Click the button below to go to our THS Service Updates – Coronavirus (Covid-19) page. We’re including all updates to care at THS on this page, along with what we’re doing to preserve the health and safety of our patients.

Therapeutic Health Services cares deeply about our patients and our community, that’s why we want to share this notification and any others in the future to keep you informed of any changes at THS regarding coronavirus (covid-19). Our goal is to keep our patients safe and provide the care they need.

MAT Dosing at our Branches

Daily dosing will continue until further notice. We urge patients to please follow dosing line instructions and be aware they may be screened prior to dosing. We will keep you updated on any developments affecting care at THS.

Please remember to watch our website’s Services Updates page (https://ths-wa.org/news-events/ths-service-updates-coronavirus-covid-19/) page for any changes in service. We will post on our website if there are any changes to daily dosing.

Symptoms

Symptoms for the coronavirus include the following:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

If you experiencing these symptoms, we recommend visiting your primary care provider.

Prevention

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These are important ways to prevent infection:

  • Wash hands with water and soap/hand sanitizer for 20 seconds
  • Avoid contact with infected people
  • Don’t touch eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands

Emergency or Crisis Help

If you are experiencing a medical or other emergency, Call 911 immediately.

If you are in crisis and need help you can call the King County Crisis Line at  206-461-3222 or 1-866-4CRISIS (1-866-427-4747).

In Snohomish County, please call 2-1-1 or the Care Crisis Line at 1-800-584-3578 to get help.

Questions or Concerns

If you have questions or concerns, please contact your branch. Our locations and their phone numbers are found here.

Stay Up-to-date on Our Response to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Outbreak
These are uncertain times and news about the outbreak is constantly changing, but you don’t have to worry about what THS is doing, how our services are impacted and what effect that has on your care. Click the button below to go to our THS Service Updates – Coronavirus (Covid-19) page. We’re including all updates to care at THS on this page, along with what we’re doing to preserve the health and safety of our patients.

The Seattle/King County Clinic is coming on February 13-16. Learn more at the link HERE or the article below. This information is shared directly from event organizers.

Event Email: SKCClinic@seattlecenter.org

Phone: (206) 684-7200

About the Clinic – All are Welcome!

  • For anyone in need who struggles to access and/or afford healthcare
  • Patients do not need ID or proof of immigration status
  • Patients do not need to be residents of Seattle or King County
  • Admission tickets distributed at 5:00 AM in Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center (Corner of 2nd Ave N & Thomas St)
  • No advance registration: FIRST-COME, FIRST-SERVED
  • Highest demand on Saturday & Sunday
  • Interpreters available
  • FREE parking Mercer St. Garage (650 3rd Ave N)
  • Come prepared for a long day with food, comfortable clothing and any daily medications

Services – All Free!

DENTAL: Fillings, extractions, x-rays, deep cleanings

VISION: Vision screening, complete eye exams, reading glasses and prescription eyeglasses. Bring a current eyeglass prescription (no older than one year) to skip the exam and just get eyeglasses.

MEDICAL: Physical exams, x-rays, mammograms, ultrasounds, select lab tests, immunizations foot and wound care, dermatology, physical and occupational therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic care, nutrition counseling, behavioral health, and more

RESOURCES: Social work, help with health insurance, and more

How Do I Get Into the Clinic?

  • Get a ticket in Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center. Fisher Pavilion opens each day at 12:30 AM (see seattlecenter.org/patients for a map and details).
  • A limited number of tickets will be given out each day starting at 5:00 AM. The ticket is only good for that day. One ticket per person.
  • The first patients will enter the Clinic at 6:30 AM. Entrance will be in order of the number on the ticket.

How Should I Prepare for the Clinic?

This will be a long day. Come prepared to take care of yourself.

  • Bring food, beverages and any medications you may need throughout the day.
  • DO NOT fast for lab tests.
  • To get dental care, you must have blood pressure and glucose within certain limits. This is for your safety.
  • Wear comfortable clothing.
  • Do not bring pets unless they are trained service animals.
  • A parent or legal guardian must accompany a patient under age 18. Exceptions may be made for youth ages 13 and above who are not in contact with a parent or legal guardian.

Will Someone Speak My Language?

  • Interpretation will be available throughout the Clinic.

What Happens Once I Enter the Clinic?

  • There will be a large number of patients. You may not be able to get all of the services that you want or that are offered on the same day. You cannot get both dental and vision care on the same day.
  • Patients can wait in line for an admission ticket on another day for additional services.
  • You will be given a pass for the Clinic. This pass will allow you to leave and re-enter Clinic buildings for that day only.
  • We will collect basic personal information including name, age and medical history.
  • In each service area (dental, vision or medical) you will wait your turn in line and will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • If you are in line for a service and you leave your place for a long time (more than 15 minutes), you will lose your place in line and will need to go to the end of the line when you return.

What Services Will NOT Be Provided?

DENTAL: Bridges, complex extractions including wisdom teeth, dentures, implants, orthodontics, root canals on molars, sedation, teeth whitening

VISION: Contacts, sunglasses

MEDICAL: Biopsies, casts, CT scans, stitches/sutures, immunizations for children under 18 years of age, admission to a treatment facility, MRIs, new prescriptions for behavioral health medications

Narcotics will not be used or prescribed. Authorization for medical marijuana will not be provided.

Do You Need Treatment?
Click the button below to be connected to our Get Help form. From there we can connect you to care with our qualified clinicians.

Due to the President’s Day Holiday, all THS Branches will be closed on February 17th, 2020

If you are a patient and need to speak with our staff, please call your branch. The phone numbers are found on our locations page here.

If you are not a patient and would like to request service, please complete our Get Help form located here: www.ths-wa.org/get-help.

For Patients Receiving Methadone

President’s Day – February 17th

  • Two (2) take home carries will be given on Saturday, February 15 for those eligible.
  • Patients will return on Tuesday, February 18 for regular dosing.

If you normally receive carries, you will be accommodated. If you have any questions, please speak with a dispensary nurse or your primary counselor.

In Case of Emergency

If you are experiencing a medical or other emergency, call 911 immediately.

If you are in crisis and wish to reach the King County Crisis Line, please call 206-461-3222 or 1-866-4CRISIS (1-866-427-4747).

In Snohomish County, please call 2-1-1 or the Care Crisis Line at 1-800-584-3578.

Meeting Scott

When you talk with Scott, you hear a guy that knows his mind and can explain where he’s coming from. With every question his response breaks down his experience and tells his story. He makes it easy to relate to each of his challenges and the hard work it took to overcome them. Scott started using heroin when he was 15. He didn’t achieve sobriety until age 38.

“I’ve been going at it since I was 15. Got into a car accident, got prescribed Oxycontin, got caught going to multiple doctors, they took them away, then got introduced to heroin at a young age. It’s the same story a lot of people have. They get into painkillers and bam.”

– Scott

Burning Out, Year by Year

Heroin addiction was hard on Scott. His body, mind, and family were all on the line when he was using. “Life was horrible, I’d been to treatment nine times, I’ve overdosed several times, I’ve had multiple abscesses. Life was horrible, once I started using drugs at least” said Scott. He financed his habit by lying to and stealing from his mother. “I was a worthless person. I didn’t work, if I did, I would cheat, steal. Just basically my life or world would revolve around heroin or opiates” said Scott.

Scott’s mother kept encouraging him to go to treatment. As Scott puts it, “I tried multiple treatment centers, nothing seemed to work…It just seemed like every time I’d go through treatment, I would do great, and then I’d get out and I would last maybe a month tops.”

Making a Change

It wasn’t until Scott decided he was fed up with the life he was living that treatment started working for him. He’d just overdosed again and spent time in Harborview Medical Center. Scott spent 3 months at home while his body healed. Scott made up his mind, he was sick of lying, cheating and endangering his health. He committed to treatment and leaving addiction behind.

“It was the first time I wanted to do it for myself, so I went into it a whole different way. Before I’d always go into treatment like ‘Okay I got 30 days until I get out, time to party!’ This time I looked at it like, it was a big worry when I got out, about what I would do, how it would work out…Definitely a whole different way of looking at life when I realized I was tired of getting high all the time.”

– Scott

Life Today, Plans for Tomorrow

Life for Scott is better now because of his recovery. Sober for two years and recently married with two children, Scott’s been working a steady job for the City of Seattle for the last seven years. His wife, who is also in recovery, is clean now and their relationship is healthier than it’s ever been. Together they are looking for a home, planning for retirement, and looking forward to more time together. “I love getting up every day, my kids got everything they need, I got everything I need, and my Mom doesn’t have to worry about me asking for money” Scott said.

Working Man

Scott works for the City of Seattle, a job he got through the Conservation Corps, a work-training program operated by the Cities’ Parks and Recreation department. The program provides employment to those experiencing homelessness, or who are undergoing addiction treatment. The Cities’ Parks and Recreation department explains the program “provides job skills and carries out projects that benefit our citizens and our environment.”

While in the Conservation Corps, Scott worked hard, commuting 6-8 hours a day just getting to and from the job site. His dedication and effort paid off. After he finished the program, he was offered a position with the City, where he’s worked since.

Grateful Thoughts and Humble Advice

Reflecting on his recovery, Scott feels methadone played a big part. He feels that the combination of methadone and counseling made it possible for him to take his mind off his addiction and focus on making his life better. “Treatment is here for you, you just need to know you’re ready to commit, then get to it.”

Are You or Someone You Know in Need of Treatment?
Click the button for more to be taken to our Get Help form. Your entry will be securely transmitted to our staff who will contact you ASAP.
Support Patients Like Scott
Please choose to support people like Scott. Support others who need your help in their daily battle against addiction. Help us make the world a brighter place for those in need. Click the button below to donate.

The Therapeutic Health Services team had a great year, especially on our website, where we saw a 118% increase in total web traffic! You have our sincerest thanks for visiting our site, sharing us, and connecting to care with us. We wanted to take a moment to compile some of the great stories, videos, and posts we shared in 2019.

Patient Stories

Brenda’s Story – Recovering from Opioid Addiction – Brenda’s fall into opioid use stripped her life of the joy and happiness she lived for. Brenda almost lost everything, but when she decided to enter treatment her hard work helped her win it all back and more.

Betty’s Story – Recovery Through Time – Betty’s life teaches us about how opioid use disorder is a chronic condition and MAT isn’t a cure. However, with care, support, and treatment, Betty has lived a beautiful life confidently knowing she has the support she’s needed.

Rachelle’s Story – Life isn’t always kind, and Rachelle was dealt with some of the worst curve balls life can throw. She was diagnosed with cancer, fell into drug use, and had her child taken away from her…but she didn’t give up. When she became pregnant, Rachelle took that as the inspiration she needed to take her life back into her own hands. Her story of taking back her child, beating cancer, and beating heroin, is a testament to the power of hard work and quality care.

Debra’s Story – Debra had a harder start to life than most people can even imagine. She was born addicted to heroin and was actively using by age 13. Debra’s life was a struggle for survival, but after decades of use and intermittent treatment, she made the decision to finally quit. With the support she needed, Debra met her goal.

Dwayne’s Story – The promise of success, the power of potential, that’s what Dwayne possessed when he started a new career. A young man with talent and skill, he was set for the big leagues, but what started as an after-work calmant quickly took over his life. Dwayne didn’t let heroin stop him, the story of his recovery and fresh start are an inspiration for anyone.

THS Programs

Central Youth Development – Developing Youth and Making Bright Futures – Our Central Youth Development program is serving youth where they are by partnering with Seattle Public Schools to provide quality services and youth development. Their California summer trip with students took them on a tour of many of the biggest and best colleges in the state. Check out this fun video and story and see why the Central Youth Development program are the best at what they do; developing youth and making bright futures.

Staff Profile

I’ve Been There, You Can Do This – Peer Support Specialists at THS – Marissa is one of our amazing Peer Support specialists. She uses her knowledge and experience gained in her own struggles with addiction and mental illness, to better help, connect, and serve our patients. Marissa’s story is one of our favorites from 2019.

Support THS Patients
Please consider making a gift today to ensure we can continue saving lives and rebuilding futures. Click the button below to be taken to our donate page.

THS is hosting Alcohol/Drug Information School (A/DIS) at two of our branches, Summit and Eastside, once monthly through to December 2020 These courses help individuals make more informed decisions about substance use.

What is Alcohol/Drug Information School?

The Alcohol/Drug Information School classes offered through Therapeutic Health Services meet the requirements set forth in the Washington State Administrative Code (WAC) in conjunction with Washington State Courts, Probation, and the Washington State Dept. of Licensing.

Participants will have the opportunity to learn about the risks and consequences associated with the continued use of potentially addictive substances. A/DIS is a workbook based course meant to educate and inform people about the decisions they make and their impact on themselves and those around them.

When are the Class Sessions?

Information About Class Sessions

How to Register

You can register by contacting the branch nearest you. View a list of branches here:

Commit to Compassion Today

We share Dwayne’s Story with you in honor of Giving Tuesday. A day reserved for giving back to the causes we care about. We can use this holiday as a way to express our giving spirit, here in this season of community and generosity. We hope you enjoy this short story in honor of Giving Tuesday, the holidays, and our friend Dwayne.

Losing it and Getting it Back

Dwayne has a relaxed sort of charisma. He’s well dressed, well-spoken, a very charming person to speak with. Life hasn’t always been kind to Dwayne, but when you speak with him you can tell that life’s challenges have not held him down. Despite falling into drug use, addiction and nearly losing everything as a young man, he realized when he had a problem and needed help. He came to THS and with the tools, he was given, Dwayne rebuilt his future.

Challenges and a Bright Future

Born and raised here in Washington, Dwayne started adult life with a challenge, “(When I was) 18 years old my Dad basically said you have three months to figure out what you’re gonna do. I’m kicking you out when you graduate.” Not one to miss a step, Dwayne took this as an opportunity to strike out on his own. He entered a trade school not long after and worked small jobs while he got through school. Dwayne left with the skills and drive he needed to make it. He took a job at a small company and found that he was incredibly talented in his craft. Dwayne kept getting better, kept expanding and growing in his position, but his trajectory would soon be cut abruptly.

A Troubling Influence

The owner of the small company Dwayne was working at had a troubling habit of bringing cocaine and heroin to work. It didn’t take long after starting there that Dwayne was offered some. As Dwayne said, “He introduced it slowly…after work, on the weekends and then it just kind of rolled from there.” Dwayne took to using it more and more, always for fun and never because he needed it. It didn’t take too long before he slipped.

Dwayne had a promising start to his career, but addiction made him lose sight of the life he was building.

I was at the top of my game and eventually you lose everything, you lose your job or your business, then you lose your friends, you lose your family…You’re always asking for money because you spend everything that you had and then you’re just completely down and out.  

Dwayne

“(I) remember one day I woke up and I felt really awful…when I smoked more of it [heroin] the sickness went away…I knew I was addicted of course” Because of the unique way in which opioids work on the brain and body, the typical withdrawal symptoms ‑  anxiety, muscle cramps, nausea, and jitters – become severe and debilitating. This is why Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), which uses medications like methadone and suboxone to keep withdrawal at bay, is the most effective way to start the process of recovery from opioid addiction.

Connecting to Care

Dwayne connected with THS in the hope of entering the MAT program. He’d tried methadone on the street and found that it took his sickness away “It gave me a good sense of well-being, centered feeling again. I felt like myself and I never felt intoxicated on methadone” said Dwayne. When he came to THS, he was assigned to a care team who worked together with him to provide the care and recovery support he needed. By working with his counselor and physician, Dwayne was given the tools he needed to rebuild his life. It wasn’t easy, but with hard work, caring support, and evidence-based treatment, Dwayne was able to start again.

Success and Recovery

Today, 25 years since entering treatment and moving past his addiction, Dwayne is now a successful business owner. His talent, skill, and drive helped him take back all he’d lost and more. He still receives treatment, but it doesn’t define him. His care is the same as any chronic condition, he sees his provider and gets the support, therapy, and medicine he needs. Dwayne wants others to know what worked for him in his recovery; “Find something to do and just immerse yourself in it. Be so busy that you don’t have time to think about anything else.”

Help Us Make Stories Like Dwayne’s

Thank you for taking a moment to read Dwane’s story, but there is more you can do to help people like him. Today you can be part of making stories like Dwayne’s. Today, you can be an investor in the future our patients want to build. Today, you can commit to helping us give people the tools they need to start small businesses, contribute to society, and drive economic progress. Today, you can help make a new tomorrow. Please commit to donating, you can do so below:

If you have any questions regarding how to donate to Therapeutic Health Services, please call Joshua Krebsbach at 206-323-0930 ext. 1258 or send an email to JoshuaKr@ths-wa.org

Therapeutic Health Services is designated by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, EIN 91-0882971. All contributions are tax-deductible within the limit of the law. Please consult your tax advisor.  No goods or services were received in exchange for these gifts

By Laura Ungar NOVEMBER 25, 2019 – Kaiser Health News Article

CINCINNATI — A pain pill prescription for nerve damage revived Gwendolyn Barton’s long-dormant addiction last year, awakening fears she would slip back into smoking crack cocaine.

She’d done that drug and others for about 20 years before getting sober in 2008. But things were different back then. This time, the 62-year-old knew she needed to seek treatment before it was too late.

“If I used today,” she said, “I’d be dead.”

The powerful opioid fentanyl is often mixed into cocaine, turning the stimulant into a much bigger killer than the drug of the past. Cocaine-related overdoses took the lives of nearly 14,000 Americans in 2017, up 34% in just a year, the latest federal figures show. And they’re expected to soar even higher as cocaine’s popularity resurges.

Barton, who is African American, is wise to be wary. Deaths are rising most precipitously among African Americans, who are more likely to use cocaine than whites and fatally overdosed at an 80% higher rate.

But the scourge is festering quietly, overshadowed by the larger opioid epidemic that kills tens of thousands each year, the vast majority of them white.

More than 30 states have seen cocaine death rates rise since 2010, with Ohio leading the way. Overdoses from crack and powder cocaine killed 14 of every 100,000 Ohioans of all races in 2017 — seven times more than in 2010, according to the University of Minnesota’s State Health Access Data Assistance Center.

Colin Planalp, senior research fellow with the center, said deaths have risen steeply in rural and urban areas across America since 2000, and the increase is directly related to the national opioid crisis.

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Most of the time, fentanyl is the stealth culprit, posing a particular danger to longtime cocaine users who may be older, sicker and unaccustomed to the effects of opioids.

“Your whole system is kind of thrown a curveball,” said Katherine Engel, director of nursing at the Center for Addiction Treatment in Cincinnati. “You’re an opiate virgin, so to speak.”

Tom Synan, police chief in Newtown, just outside Cincinnati, said the risk extends to cocaine users who also have used older opioids such as heroin because fentanyl is 50 times more potent.

“In the ’70s, a ‘speedball’ was a mix of cocaine and heroin. I call this ‘speedball 2.0.’ Fentanyl has made it much worse,” he said. “It’s made every drug people are addicted to into a crisis.”

In May, in Cincinnati’s county of Hamilton, cocaine overdoses killed six people over 10 days.

Increased Supply, New Dangers Added

The crisis is growing as more people use cocaine.

A federal survey showed about 2 million Americans used the stimulant regularly in 2018, up from 1.4 million in 2011. One in 100 African Americans used the drug regularly last year, a rate 40% higher than among whites.

Supply helps drive use. A 2018 report by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says record cocaine production in Colombia, the primary source for cocaine seized in the United States, has widened the cocaine market and pushed down prices. The agency expects the trend to continue.

Synan said the supply has ebbed and flowed over the years and cocaine never went away. What’s different now, he said, is the intentional and unintentional addition of fentanyl.

Sometimes, law enforcement experts said, dealers spike cocaine with the inexpensive synthetic opioid to hook people. Other times, it gets mixed in through sloppy handling or packaging somewhere along the way.

“The reason they’re putting it in is it’s cheap,” said Thomas Fallon, commander of the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition Task Force. “Also, they’re not chemists. They don’t always know what they’re doing.”

Still, longtime cocaine users often trust their dealers. They’re less likely than heroin or pill users to carry the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone, treatment professionals and police said, because they don’t think of themselves as opioid users and don’t believe they’ll need it.

While some users overdose and die from cocaine mixed with fentanyl, others come to crave the potent combination for its high.

“Instead of being a deterrent, it’s an incentive for some,” said Evonne Stephenson, a nurse practitioner at the Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program of Cincinnati. “Everyone thinks they’re invincible.”

Actually, drug use makes them more vulnerable to serious health problems or death, especially as they age. Indeed, the steepest rise in cocaine-related overdose deaths nationwide was among people 45 to 54 years old.

William Stoops, a University of Kentucky professor who studies drug and alcohol addiction, said longtime cocaine use causes cardiovascular problems, which raises the risk of dying from an overdose even before fentanyl is added to the mix.

Barton likens doing cocaine these days to a game of Russian roulette.

“If I used today,” says Barton, “I’d be dead.” Cocaine-related overdoses took the lives of nearly 14,000 Americans in 2017, up 34% in just a year, the latest federal figures show. (Meg Vogel for KHN)

“One person might get super high,” she said. “The next one may take it and die.”

Challenges Abound

Efforts to reduce these deaths face several obstacles.

Long-simmering resentment among African Americans around the criminalization of cocaine addiction in the 1980s and ’90s fuels an ongoing mistrust of law enforcement and public health efforts.

Back then, possessing 5 grams of crack, which many associated with low-income African Americans, brought the same prison sentence as possessing 500 grams of powder cocaine, which many associated with middle-class or affluent whites.

The way people think about and tackle drug use has been “influenced by who we think uses them,” said Jeffrey Coots, who directs John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s “From Punishment to Public Health” initiative in New York.

And though African Americans use opioids, too, today the drugs are typically associated with white users.

“There’s a thought that no one cared until a bunch of white people started dying,” said Stephenson, the Cincinnati nurse practitioner. “That’s so tragic.”

Synan said he’s heard this sentiment. People ask: “‘Why do you care now if you didn’t care back then?’” he said. “So you have to overcome that. Whether it’s real or perceived, it doesn’t matter, because it’s still an issue.”

Synan said he understands the concerns and acknowledged that society sees opioids more through a medical lens. But he said that’s partly because of an evolving understanding of addiction and the sheer numbers of overdose deaths in recent years, which require urgent action.

To be sure, overdoses involving opioids kill more Americans: 47,600 in 2017, including 5,513 African Americans. Overdoses involving cocaine killed 3,554 African Americans — although categories overlap because deaths may involve more than one drug.

Another challenge: There’s less in the treatment arsenal for cocaine addiction. While medications such as Suboxone and methadone treat people hooked on opioids, there are no federally approved medications to treat cocaine problems, even though researchers were testing promising medications nearly 15 years ago.

Public health officials say they’re focusing more on cocaine addiction in light of today’s deadly overdose threat, and trying to address the larger issue of addiction in general.

Deadly cocaine overdoses are rising most precipitously among African Americans, who are more likely to use the drug than whites and fatally overdosed at an 80% higher rate.(MEG VOGEL FOR KHN)

“What we’d certainly like to see more of is community-level interventions that go at the drivers of drug use in the first place — seeing it as the symptom of a problem,” Coots said.

In Ohio, the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition — which plans to change its name to reflect a focus on all addictions — has reached out to African Americans through black churches, public forums and community leaders. It tries to spread messages about prevention, the dangers of today’s cocaine, where to get help and the need for every drug user to carry naloxone.

The group also has a “quick response team” including police, emergency workers and addiction specialists who follow up with overdose victims, often going to their homes to try to get them into treatment.

That treatment needs to be “culturally competent,” Stephenson said, meaning providers respect diversity and the cultural factors that can affect health. These are key goals of the Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program, where she works.

Barton said treatment she gets through this program is helping keep her sober and productive. She works as a cook in nearby Covington, Ky., and also tries to help friends still struggling on the streets.

Lately, she’s been especially worried about one friend, a longtime cocaine user who has overdosed repeatedly and landed in the hospital.

She pleads with him to be careful, delivering a dire warning:

“One day, you’re just not gonna come back.”

Laura Ungar: lungar@kff.org@laura_ungar

Patient taking their first step to recovery, receiving a physical exam

First Step to Recovery

The First Step to Recovery at THS starts with an assessment, a private consultation with one of our counselors talking about the issues the new patient is facing. Here our staff can figure out exactly what issues someone is coping with. Whether it’s heroin or opioid abuse, mental health issues, or trouble with other substances, our team is standing by to help anyone take their First Step to Recovery. Watch the video above or read below to learn more. Learning more..

Summit & Seneca

Now Accepting New Patients – Summit & Seneca Branches

Our First Hill branches, Summit & Seneca, housed at the same location are now accepting new patients for our Opioid Use Treatment program. If anyone is in need of care, in need of support, or in need of medication-assisted treatment, we can help. Call (206) 705-7771 and we can schedule an appointment for an assessment and entrance to recovery. Click here to visit our Get Help form to request an appointment and someone will reach out to help with the more..

Closed Independence Day July 3-4

All Branch Closure – Independence Day July 3-4

Due to the Independence Day Holiday, all THS Branches will be closed on July 3rd and 4th 2020. If you are a patient and need to speak with our staff, please call your branch. The phone numbers are found on our locations page here. If you are not a patient and would like to request service, please complete our Get Help form located here: www.ths-wa.org/get-help. For Patients Receiving Methadone All Methadone Dispensing Clinics will be open for dispensing medication on more..

memorial day american flag and cherry blossoms

All Branch Closure – Memorial Day May 25th

Due to the Memorial Day Holiday, all THS Branches will be closed on May 25th, 2020. If you are a patient and need to speak with our staff, please call your branch. The phone numbers are found on our locations page here. If you are not a patient and would like to request service, please complete our Get Help form located here: www.ths-wa.org/get-help. For Patients Receiving Methadone Memorial Day – May 25th Two (2) take home carries will be given more..

Patient and Counselor, Brenda and Paula

Looking Back: Brenda’s Story

Looking Back Update It’s been one year since we first shared Brenda’s story. We caught up with her to see how things were going. She’s still receiving treatment with THS and still enjoying working with Paula. As Brenda says; “Paula is still my favorite person…I love her dearly, we get along like real family members, we get along great.” Brenda is healthy and well, still loving all the good things life has blessed her with since she stopping using. Read more..

Betty, patient at THS. Hers is a story of recovery through time.

Looking Back: Betty’s Story – Recovery Through Time

One-Year Check-Up We had a chance to check-in with Betty, a patient of Summit/Seneca Branch whose story we told a year ago in a patient story video. Betty is doing well and staying healthy in this time of uncertainty. Betty is in the high-risk group for Covid-19, but her local neighbor community has really rallied around the challenge and she and her neighbors are getting help picking up groceries and such. As Betty puts it, she’s really thriving right now. more..

Hands holding, supporting each other. Debra

Looking Back: Debra’s Story

The story below was originally posted in April of 2019. We want everyone to know about Debra and her story of overcoming a lifetime of addiction and health struggles, to create the life she always wanted. A Hard Start Debra had a hard start in life. She was born addicted to heroin, her parents were both users before she was born. At the age of 13, Debra decided she was going to try heroin. Debra asked her father to shoot more..

Kelly in front of a white background

Kelly’s Story – Eager to Change

Kelly’s story, sadly, is one we’ve heard too often before. She grew up in a home where her parents often did drugs, started using meth as a teenager and ran into trouble with the law at a young age. As an alternative to jail time, she entered into the King County Drug Court program, where eligible defendants (generally low-level and non-violent offenders) can choose to receive substance use treatment instead of going to trial. Upon successful graduation from the two more..

Banner showing a dock stretching out into a mountain lake with the sun and text with the title of the page, Self-Care Amidst Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Self-Care Tips for Coping Amidst Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Here at Therapeutic Health Services, our doors are still open and we will continue to serve any and all in need of behavioral health services. However, many of our patients won’t be coming in as often. They will continue to get weekly check-in calls from their counselor, more details on these check-ins are HERE. We recognize people might face some mental health challenges, so here are some great self-care tips for helping each of us manage our own feelings throughout more..

PBS Frontline Logo

Chasing Heroin – PBS Frontline Documentary

In 2016, THS was able to collaborate with the producers of PBS’ Frontline series on a documentary entitled “Chasing Heroin.” Many of the people featured in the documentary are THS patients. The documentary also outlines how over-prescription of opioids led to the current national epidemic. This vivid and compelling film shows the despair of heroin users and how Seattle-based agencies and community members are working to serve these people in need. Medication-Assisted Treatment (Methadone, Suboxone®) As seen in the document, Medication-Assisted Treatment more..

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