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Local News

Opioid Awareness Day full of grief, hope

People kneel on a lawn, planting purple flags in the grass.
People planting flags to honor loved ones lost to overdose on the lawn at Adventist Health Ukiah Valley.

August 31 is opiate awareness day, in the county with the highest number of overdose deaths per capita in the state. This week, various providers highlighted the services that are available, as people who have been devastated by drugs spoke publicly about their stories.

On Wednesday, at Adventist Health Ukiah Valley, people in the healthcare field, who are in recovery, or have lost loved ones to opioids gathered on the helipad under a hazy sky to listen to stories of sadness and hope. Guests were invited to peruse a table decked out with snacks, flowers and Narcan, an opioid overdose reversal medication. Austin Peterson, one of the substance use navigators in the Adventist emergency rooms, reminded everyone that suboxone, a medication that helps reduce the craving for opiates, is available in any emergency room in the county, 24/7. Adventist is participating in a program called California Bridge, which streamlines prescriptions for a medication that many of the speakers credit with saving their lives.

One man told the group that, thanks to suboxone, he has been clean for over a year and a half, and that he was able to start repairing the relationship with his parents after years of homelessness and incarceration. Another woman told the crowd that the same medication helped her get clean after her kids were taken away from her, “for the umpteenth time.”. A counselor who used drugs from the age of thirteen until she was 45 years old spends her days helping create what she calls “a village,” where people can help each other recover.

But not everyone recovers. Seana Bell carried a picture of her son Cody Bivin, who died from a fentanyl overdose on March 17, 2021. He was 28 years old.

Local News
Sarah Reith came to Mendocino County in 2008 and worked as a reporter and freelancer, joining KZYX as a community news reporter in 2017. She became the KZYX News Director in March, 2023.