Republican Gubernatorial candidate Dr. Tommy Ahlquist has announced an action plan to address Idaho’s ongoing opioid crisis. Itincludes joining six other states in declaring a state of emergency on opioid overdoses and deaths and using the power of thegovernor’s office to raise public awareness about the opioid crisis and educating Idahoans on how they can get help and help others. The goal will be to reduce the number of opioid deaths in Idaho by 50 percent in 4 years.  Approximately 200 opioid overdoses and/or deaths per year occur in Idaho according to estimates, but to date Idaho’s career politicians have failed to act on a comprehensive plan to address the problem.   

“Having served as an ER doctor for over 18 years and seeing the devastating effects of this crisis first-hand, I thank Idaho’s law enforcement, EMS and community leaders for their continued heroic efforts in tackling this problem,” said Ahlquist. “But leadership and support on this issue is needed from the governor’s office – because whether from prescription opioids or illegal heroin – the death of even one Idahoan in the opioid epidemic is one too many.”

“It is time for leadership and a plan to address this critical health and safety issue. The time for talking about a problem is over. The time for action is now.”

Ahlquist also released a video https://youtu.be/ZGdGYFKTcqo highlighting the tragedy the opioid epidemic has brought upon families and individuals throughout Idaho, featuring Jason Coombs, CEO and founder of Meridian-based Brick House Recovery. Following a car accident and subsequent over prescription, Coombs developed an addiction to the opioid OxyContin –- an addiction that downward spiraled to heroin addiction and overdose. Coombs has dedicated his life to helping individuals fight opioid and other addictions. 

“As a treatment provider who sees the wreckage this crisis causes individuals and families day after day – I can tell you Ahlquist’s plan hits every single bullet point I’d put in an opioid crisis plan if I wrote such a plan myself,” said Coombs. 

 The opioid crisis action plan to reduce deaths by 50 percent in four years:

  • Join six other states in declaring a state of emergency on Opioid Overdose and Deaths -- addressing the more than 200 overdoses and/or deaths per year caused by this crisis - https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/statedeaths.html
  • Use the power of the Governor’s office to raise public awareness about the opioid crisis and educate families and individuals on how they can get help and help others 
  • Under the leadership of the Governor’s office, assemble a broad group of leaders to help fight this crisis including state and local law enforcement, first responders, medical professionals, pharmacies, primary and secondary education leaders, community leaders and churches 
  • Ensure law enforcement agencies and first responders have the training and equipment necessary to fight this crisis
  • Evaluate and consider smart investments in substance abuse clinics that can help address this crisis
  • Improve data collection, training, life-saving naloxone (opioid reversal drug) dissemination, and access to medical assisted treatment programs, and non-opioid chronic pain therapies in Idaho
  • Undertake a full review of all state mental health programs including suicide prevention programs -- from top to bottom – and make any improvements necessary that could help with this crisis and the overall health of Idahoans