Interview with Erin James, Outreach Marijuana and Opiate Prevention Coordinator 

Shared from the DCHS Touching Base Newsletter  

What do you do in the Department of Community and Human Services?

As part of the Youth, Family, and Prevention Section of the Behavioral Health and Recovery Division, my role is to focus on both opioid prevention and youth marijuana prevention and education.

My opioid work is funded through Mental Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD), and consists of staffing the Primary Prevention workgroup (one section of the holistic body of work implemented by the King County Heroin and Prescription Opiate Task Force) and implementing its recommendation strategies. The Primary Prevention workgroup focuses on “preventing” opioid related problems before they start through the strategies of education, promoting King County’s permanent secure medicine take-back program, and supporting Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) programs implemented by the MIDD and Best Starts for Kids (BSK) initiatives focusing on youth and adults. One of the most exciting pieces of this work has been to coordinate an opioid education series with the King County Library System, where Task Force members, partners, and treatment providers provided panel presentations at seven community locations on seven topics of interest.

Moreover, I have had the privilege of supporting overdose prevention and education through MIDD funded Naloxone education and support programming. This work coordinates training of providers and partners (law enforcement, Emergency Medical Services, homeless housing, and others) in how to recognize the signs of opioid overdose and how to reverse opioid overdose using the life-saving drug, Naloxone.

My youth marijuana prevention work is funded by the Department of Health Youth Marijuana Prevention and Education Program (YMPEP) and is done in partnership with Public Health – Seattle & King County. Together, we connect with individuals, partners, and communities to develop regionally informed and culturally appropriate strategies to address youth risks which increase the likelihood that they will engage in substance use, and specifically, youth marijuana use, which can be problematic to the developing brain and can get in the way of academics and other core youth activities.

What’s something about yourself that people may not know?

I used to do community theatre (musicals), when I lived in Quincy, Washington. While in Quincy, I got to be involved in lots of fun and rewarding experiences, such as serving on the worship team as a singer, being a youth group leader, and helping co-lead Girl Scouts and Campfire groups. My favorite work is in youth leadership and the mentorship that naturally goes along with it. Lastly, I really like dance fitness. If anyone knows of a place where I can do “Mixxedfit” every day, I am interested to know… and then I will move there!

To learn more about what DCHS is doing in our community, read the most recent issue of the Touching Base Newsletter (on SharePoint).