After three drug overdose deaths in the Tri-Cities, local experts offer advice to prevent addiction

Pasco Police reported that three people died from drug overdoses during this past weekend

PASCO, Wash. – Over the weekend, the Pasco Police Department responded to three drug overdose deaths. Sergeant Pruneda with the department said two of the men were brothers.

They suspect the pills they took may have been cut with something much stronger.

Now, they’re hoping others will think twice before buying or using drugs.

In 2020, PPD responded to 14 overdose deaths, so far in 2021, they’ve had seven.

Meanwhile, the CDC continues to see an increase in substance abuse disorder numbers as the pandemic continues.

“And it’s true in our area just as it’s true all over the country,” Michele Gerber, with the Benton Franklin Recovery Coalition said.

“Substances are very rewarding, you know, they bring on the heightened sense of oneness, closeness, connectedness. However, the side effects aren’t so good of course,” Dr. William Waters, a local psychologist added.

During a time of isolation and distancing, it may be harder to realize someone is experiencing addiction.

“They’re gonna miss commitments, they’re gonna be forgetful, they may be asking to borrow money, and they may be more irritable more confrontational,” Gerber, who lost her son to addiction, said.

READ MORE: Benton County Prosecutor sheds like on drug addiction recovery

When it comes to drugs, there’s another concern besides addiction; they could be laced with other potentially fatal substances like Fentanyl.

“That’s when you’re going to get some people that cannot tolerate that much and they’re going to have overdoses.” Gerber said.

So, in a time of social distancing, how do we prevent more deaths?

“People have been experimenting more perhaps than they have in the past with having one more drink than they might otherwise do,” Dr. Waters said.

Gerber said it starts with a conversation between you and the person you’re worried about.

“Be direct, you know in the past, we’ve all tip toed around addiction acted like well I don’t wanna bring it up because it’s embarrassing or it’s disgraceful,” Gerber said it’s okay to bring up that you’re worried about someone.

Dr. Water added, the conversation needs to come from a place of compassion and sincerity.

“What’s going on for you? I’ve noticed that you’ve been drinking more recently? You can offer a place, you can offer a hand, you can offer them to experiment going back to AA or NA,” he said.

Both Gerber and Dr. Waters said you should also have a plan, such as getting the individual into a drug / alcohol treatment program or counselling.

“You’re worth it, they’re all worth it,” Dr. Waters said.

While the Benton Franklin Recovery Coalition is still working on getting a treatment center in the Tri-Cities, there are out-patient programs available. Visit the coalition’s website for more information.