RENTON, Wash. — A ground-breaking new treatment center inside a Safeway grocery store in Renton is making it easier for people battling addiction to get the help they need.
While it could seem out of place to have an addiction treatment center next to where you get your eggs and bread, the company Ideal Option said that's exactly the point.
"Individuals struggling with addiction oftentimes are judged in their communities. And based on that judgment, and their fear of health care settings, they will avoid treatment, will not seek treatment," said Benjamin Rae, director of provider relations at Ideal Option.
The goal of the center is to normalize addiction treatment and break down barriers for people seeking assistance, which data shows a growing need.
So far this year, there have been 240 fentanyl-involved overdose deaths in King County. That is a 40% increase from last year, according to the King County Media Examiner's Officer.
Anyone seeking help will be seen at the Renton Safeway, but new patients seeking treatment for addiction to fentanyl, heroin, and other substances will first be referred to an Ideal Option Clinic. Then they can transition to the Safeway center after around three to four weeks for ongoing counseling and medication.
The transition will come after providers feel the patient has seen reasonable success.
"Where some people might say, 'I want to go from being a three-bottle a day wine drinker to one glass of wine a day,' we can help meet those needs with catered and customized medication," said Rae. "With fentanyl and opioids, because it has such a high lethal component and the overdose death rates are so high, recovering 99% of the time means abstinence."
Rae added that so far, their centers have not experienced significant incidences or disturbances from what they call maintenance patients and that the public has been supportive.
But he also added these two locations are still in testing phases, and the company will continue to learn and evaluate their success as well as the success of patients before opening a third location.
"The way that mental health has advanced today, people are not shy about seeking help for depression and anxiety the way they may have been shy or ashamed 10 years ago, and we see that same trajectory occurring in addiction medicine," explained Rae.