Manfrin: Addiction treatment demands speed, ease and coordination


Guest writer Lindsey Manfrin serves as Yamhill County’s Health and Human Services Director and Public Health Administrator. She holds a master’s in nursing and doctorate in nursing practice from the Oregon Health & Science University, with an emphasis on health systems and organizational leadership. She is involved in many aspects of state and local work focused on the social determinants of health, health systems improvement and community health. She grew up in Yamhill County and is now raising her family here.

Access to treatment for alcohol and drug addiction should be fast, easy and judgment-free.

Sadly, it’s not always the case. The goal of the Yamhill County Behavioral Health Regional Network, which has counterparts emerging all across the state, is to change that.

The local network is a group of organizations working together to support people in the community at any stage of alcohol and drug recovery. The work within these organizations spans intensive substance use disorder treatment to harm reduction practices aimed at simply supporting individuals to stay as healthy as possible, in hopes they will one day take steps into recovery.

There is no question that alcohol and drug use has become an increasing issue in our community, as well as many other communities. More and more, we recognize the deep and often tragic impact it has on individuals, families, schools and our community as a whole.

Between 2021 and 2022, we experienced a 29% increase in opioid overdoses in Yamhill County. During that same time frame, fentanyl overdoses increased 800%.

It’s worth noting that these figures represent known overdoses.

The actual number is likely higher, as there are times a person who’s overdosing will be revived with naloxone, a lifesaving overdose reversal medication. If this happens, and neither a hospital or emergency services provider becomes involved, the incident will not show up in our data.

The impetus for creation of regional networks across Oregon came from Measure 110, which decriminalized simple possession of hard drugs. Though it remains highly controversial, the measure increased funding from marijuana tax dollars, and that has proven critical in helping fill the enormous gaps in the ability to provide the right care at the right time for those in need.

With the goal of providing better, easier, low-barrier access to treatment, Yamhill County’s Behavioral Health Regional Network has seized the funding opportunity to enhance services available locally.

With funding through the Oregon Health Authority, it is working through Encompass Yamhill Valley, Providence Medical Group Primary Care Newberg, Provoking Hope, Recovery Works NW, the Virginia Garcia Clinic, the Yamhill Community Action Partnership and Yamhill County Health and Human Services

These organizations are not only increasing availability of substance use disorder treatment, but also making it easier for those in greatest need of support. The agencies reach out to people where they are, both physically and emotionally, to provide them with critical resources.

Additional services in the community now include same-day low-barrier access to substance use disorder screening; assessment and care navigation support; medication-assisted treatment; expanded housing, employment and peer-support resources; and through some primary care providers, in-office substance use disorder services.

Two identified barriers to treatment are stigma and lack of knowledge or understanding of available resources. The local network is working to ease or eliminate both.

Through the power of peers — people already in recovery from substance use disorders — member organizations work to engage individuals and build trusting relationships. That enables them to support clients in accessing the right type of services for them.

By working together, the partners can more quickly. They can more easily facilitate communication between organizations, keeping the burden of navigating a complicated system on those providing the services, not those seeking them.

It is a huge and significant paradigm shift in a society that has largely put the load of figuring out how to access services on the person in need. When people are struggling with addiction, our system needs to reach out to them where they are, support them how and when they need, and adapt its models to providing the right service at the right time and place.

Expecting people to successfully tap into addiction care when they are struggling just to meet basic day-to-day life needs, and in some cases not succeeding, is wistful thinking. Given the complexity of our healthcare and social service system, it can be difficult to navigate.

Of course, this does not waive accountability for the individual seeking support and service.

Beginning and maintaining recovery requires a tremendous amount of work. The first step may simply be gaining trust with people not yet ready to commit to a recovery journey.

By building that trust, and adapting our processes to be ready to serve them the moment they are ready, we set the stage for eventually beginning to work together to build a healthier future for them.

At the end of the day, the goal of the county’s new Behavioral Health Regional Network is to offer easy, no-wrong-door access to help for addiction. We want people to get the support they need in the way it’s most conducive to them and their goals.

I would be remiss to not address the fact that while harm reduction and treatment are critical, we must work at both ends of the spectrum. We must simultaneously focus on prevention as well.

Prevention starts with strong and stable families. Implementing the right evidence-based initiatives during the prenatal and early childhood periods provides the most significant return on investment.

Everything from nutritional supports during pregnancy to home visit programs for new families demonstrate time and time again that a person’s life trajectory can be impacted. That includes the likelihood of developing a substance use disorder, by ensuring all families have the supports they need to be successful early on.

Individuals looking for more information on network services are invited to visit bit.ly/yamhillbhrn on the web or call 503-434-7523.