Safeway, Ideal Option team to break addiction stigma

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — The opioid crisis was an issue before the pandemic, and the need for addiction services is even more desperate now. The Washington State Department of Health said overdose deaths accelerated during the pandemic, jumping 38% in the first half of 2020. And most of that came from deaths involving fentanyl.

Susan Mitchell, a nurse practitioner with Ideal Option, is hopeful her team that specializes in opioid addiction treatment will reach more people with their new location — inside a Safeway in Vancouver.

By having addiction treatment accessible in a grocery store, she said it removes barriers and breaks down stigma, and makes getting help visible and accessible during everyday errands.

“What I will never grow tired of hearing is, ‘Thank you for saving my life,'” Mitchell told KOIN 6 News. “We had one fella who was just in tears because for the first time in so many years he was able to spend holiday with his family. He’d either been in prison or deep in his addiction. So it’s helping families reconnect.”

The Safeway on East Mill Plain Boulevard and Andreesen Road is the location offering Ideal Option a private space for addiction treatment. It’s open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and is located next to the pharmacy inside Safeway.

Ideal Option has no waitlists and accepts all forms of insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid.

This is their pilot program and they hope to expand their addiction treatment services to other Safeway locations in the future.

“People have a certain stereotype in mind when they think of a drug addict, but what they don’t realize is they’re sitting next to them in the boardroom. It’s not just that homeless person on the street,” Mitchell said. “This is where I think this partnership will help, by people that are coming and going who look just like your cousin, your sister. We have families who come here.”