What is Being Done

The opioid crisis was identified as a Skagit County Public Health concern in 2015. The crisis hit our streets, medical practices, emergency services, law enforcement departments, schools, and most importantly, families. However, through collaborative efforts, the community is now better situated to respond to the crisis than it was five years ago—WE ARE MAKING PROGRESS. 


  • Over the last four years (January 2016-April 2020), we’ve distributed more than 2,081 Naloxone kits, the compound that can reverse the lethal effects of an opioid overdose.
  • Families are learning about the risk of opioid prescriptions through outreach materials, billboards and community prevention coalition activities in Concrete, Sedro-Woolley and Mount Vernon.
  • Those needing access to Medications for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD), the standard of care for those with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD), now have multiple agencies ready to help them. 


Skagit County Public Health, the Population Health Trust and the Opioid Workgroup Leadership Team (OWLT) have been working since 2016 to create strategies and actions that increase prevention, minimize overdose (OD) deaths, and expand care coordination and treatment, including MOUD.




In 2015, Skagit County embarked on a Community Health Assessment process in collaboration with the Population Health Trust. The community at large resoundingly identified the opioid crisis as their greatest concern. Therefore, the Opioid Workgroup Leadership Team (OWLT) formed under the initial guidance of the Population Health Trust in July 2016. OWLT was charged with:


  • Understanding the scope of the opioid problem in Skagit County
  • Understanding what was being done throughout the community to address the problem
  • Identifying opportunities to do more 
  • Developing an action plan


An action plan was presented to the Board of Health on December 13, 2016, after six months of work by the OWLT. The leadership team identified four main goals: 

  1. Prevent opioid misuse & abuse
  2. Treat opioid dependence
  3. Expand access to and utilization of Medications for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD)
  4. Prevent deaths from overdose. 

About the OWLT

The Opioid Workgroup Leadership Team (OWLT) is a voluntary group of committed partner organizations and individuals representing hospitals, clinics, treatment and recovery agencies, law enforcement, public health/government agencies and families. This group works towards the vision of a holistic support system for those with opioid/substance use disorders in all of Skagit County.


The workgroup is led by a facilitator and receives support and guidance from Skagit County Public Health’s Planning and Assessment division. Decisions are made by a consensus of the general membership. 


The OWLT meetings are open to all community members and are held the second Thursday of each month from 2:00pm-4:00pm at the North Sound Behavioral Health-Administrative Services Organization in Mount Vernon.

In accordance with the WA State’s COVID-19 social distancing/group gathering guidelines, the OWLT is meeting virtually via GoTo Meeting. For more information, contact McKinzie Gales at mgales@co.skagit.wa.us or 360-416-1528.

Goal 1: Prevent opioid misuse & abuse
Passed the Secure Medicine Return ordinance
Developed a Secure Medicine Return program which consists of ~30 drop boxes/kiosks and mail-back distribution sites
Bi-annual Drug Take Back Day events
Added two prevention coalitions—Sedro-Woolley RISE and MVHope
Completed 50+ community education/stigma reduction presentations
Spotlight Film Festival public presentation and viewing of “Written Off”
Distributed educational materials including flyers, brochures, PSAs, and social media posts
Created an Opioid Resource Guide and this Skagit Rising website
Goal 2: Treat opioid dependence
Expanded MOUD treatment options in the community and in the Skagit County Community Justice Center (see Goal 3 for examples)
Solutions to Addiction conference
2019 Pregnancy and Beyond Conference
Increased opioid street outreach services and recovery care coordination programs
Goal 3: Expand access to and utilization of Medications for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD)
didgwálič Wellness Center
Ideal Option expanded capacity through additional waivered prescribers and adding a 24/7 nurse line/chat feature
Pioneer Center North Opioid Program
Lifeline Connections
MOUD maintenance and induction in Community Justice Center
Goal 4: Prevent deaths from overdose
Passed the Overdose a Notifiable Condition ordinance
Expanded distribution of Naloxone (Narcan®)
Skagit Regional Hospital implemented protocol for providing Narcan at discharge
Fentanyl test strips are available at the Mobile Syringe Exchange.
Current Priorities
Expand MAT (now known as MOUD) to East County
Increase OUD/SUD advocacy and education
Expand naloxone (Narcan®) distribution
Early prevention and identification of OUD/SUD among youth
System improvement and coordination for those utilizing behavioral health services
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