King County substance use disorder and recovery leaders announced this week that the 4th annual King County Conference on Substance Use will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, June 6, 2024 at Highline College in Des Moines, with a virtual attendance option available as well. 

Hosted by King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn, Public Health – Seattle & King County, the King County Recovery Coalition, the King County Council, and the King County Department of Community and Human Services, this year’s conference is centered on the theme of “A Vision for Hope” and focused on highlighting pathways and opportunities for individuals along their journey of recovery.

“This conference is for anyone whose life has been in some way touched by substance use, or anyone is interested in learning more about treatment and recovery pathways,” Dunn said. “As the number of overdose deaths tragically increases year after year, our intention is that the discussions and informative panels that happen here will bring hope to the overdose crisis in King County.”

Dunn first launched the King County Conference on Substance Use Disorders in 2021 and advocated for $50,000 in funding for the conference during in King County’s 2023-24 Biennial Budget. Now in its fourth year, Dunn will be joined by Brad Finegood, Strategic Advisor on Behavioral Health for Public Health – Seattle & King County, King County Department of Community and Human Services Director Kelly Rider and King County Recovery Coalition Director Heather Venegas in leading the conference.

“Everyone in our community can play a role in addressing the opioid crisis,” Finegood said. “This conference is an amazing opportunity for people with lived experience, elected officials, people working in behavioral health, and community members to come together to discuss substance use, share innovations in systems of care, and support people on their journey to recovery. This year we’re joining together under the theme A Vision for Hope, bringing the expertise, passion and innovation of our community together to drive action to reduce substance use stigma, clear paths to recovery, and save lives.”

This year’s conference will feature two keynote speakers: Chris Poulos, Executive Director of the Center for Justice and Human Dignity, and Derrick Belgarde, Executive Director of the Chief Seattle Club. There will also be a series of panel discussions on topics such as “A Future for Our Youth,” “Entering the Workforce,” “Navigating Care for Families,” “Stories of Hope,” and more.

“People recover everyday thanks to medicines like bupe and naloxone, support from peers and outreach teams, access to walk-in clinics, next day appointments and treatment facilities,” Rider said. “Thanks to Councilmember Dunn’s leadership, this conference provides an important opportunity to increase understanding about how these treatments work and how our government is working together to make them more accessible than ever.”

These informative presentations and discussions will take place at a time when deaths caused by overdoses are tragically surging in King County. In 2023, nearly 1,300 people died of an overdose in King County, and over 1,050 of those overdoses involved fentanyl. Fatal overdoses continue to surge year after year, with 33% more people dying of an overdose in 2023 compared to 2022

“At a time where most of us have way less than six degrees of separation from being impacted by the fentanyl crisis, the annual King County Substance Use Disorder Conference brings a vision for hope and opportunities to learn and connect for all of us,” Venegas said. “Whether you are a youth, a student, a mother, or a brother, in recovery, a loved one touched by the suffering of someone with substance use disorder, one of our champions who works in the behavioral health field or just a curious King County resident, believe me, this will be a day very well spent and there is something here for everyone. I hope you’ll join us.”

Admission is free and all are welcome to attend, but advanced registration is required. 

Visit the King County Substance Use Conference website to register and find more information.