ARLINGTON — An Arlington police officer and a Snohomish County councilman who hails from the town recounted their personal experiences with opioids at a community forum this week.
Arlington Police Sgt. Rory Bolter has seen heroin use grow by leaps and bounds since he served on the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force a decade ago, ever since changes to the chemistry, sale and online tracking of the legal drugs used to make methamphetamine have made heroin cheaper and easier to obtain.
Bolter asserted that the cartels understood that the over-prescription of those medicines would create a demand that heroin would fill, once meth became harder to come by.
“We’re not going to arrest our way out of this issue,” Bolter said.
County Councilman Ken Klein recalled being prescribed Oxycontin due to a recreational injury in 2002, six years before its formula changed, and attested to how hard the symptoms of withdrawal can hit.
“I was prescribed three pills a day, but they didn’t feel like they were doing anything for me,” Klein said. “When I stopped taking them, though, I went into the biggest depression of my life.
“My family and friends saved me from going down a much darker path. There are a lot of people who fall into addictions and don’t have those support networks. We have to be there for them.”
Both spoke at a Sept. 27 community forum on opioids and heroin. Attendees also got a hands-on look at the drug that’s been effective in reversing opioid overdoses.
Bolter identified homelessness and mental illness as equally important issues linked to opioid abuse. That’s why he supports programs ranging from the Arlington Drug Awareness Coalition to the Arlington Community Resource Center, because “jails can’t take on these people, and more treatment options need to be available.”