(Listen) Assemblymember Jim Wood On Humboldt’s Opioid Woes, ‘Times Piece; Humboldt Last Week

Humboldt Last Week is intended to be an enjoyable new way to catch up on some local news. Available where you get podcasts and downloadable for later listening.


Humboldt Last Week, Episode 83 (7:02): Last week the New York Times put out an article noting Humboldt County as the place hit worst by the opioid epidemic in all of California — a place with an opioid death rate higher than five times the state average.

The article goes into the disturbing amount of heroin and meth use in Eureka, homelessness issues, the lack of affordable housing in the area, law enforcement challenges, and criticism about the amount of state funding doled out to combat these issues.

“We really are trying and it’s a challenge,” said Assemblymember Jim Wood, a dentist who sits on many health committees. “Because it’s not just about opioids. It’s about behavioral health, it’s about homelessness… we’re just not spending the money where we need to (on things like treatment and relapse prevention)…”

In an interview with HLW, Wood discusses what he and the state have been doing to combat Humboldt’s opioid issues, a startling local heroin statistic, his healthcare proposals including one that would cover young undocumented immigrants, and his respectful disagreement with Governor Jerry Brown about healthcare funding priorities.

Other stories covered in this episode:

  • Police Say Woman Died Protecting Friend, Memorial Fund Set Up
  • Pool Will Be a Part of New Family Entertainment Center, Says Bear River Rancheria (2:35)
  • Tourists Visiting Humboldt Said To Have Spent Record $448 Million In 2017
  • Zoo Gets Funding for Views From Up High in the Redwoods
  • New Cannabis Rules
  • Restaurateur Curly Tait Remembered: Band Manager, Friend of George Carlin and Others
  • (UPDATE: Found) Local Almost Two Year Old Girl Missing With Father
  • County Employee Appearingly Thrown Under Metaphorical Bus Before Election
  • Daily Bees-Ness Troubles For Local Woman
  • Other Top Stories

Humboldt Last Week also includes additional crime updates, some attempts at humor, new music picks, Facebook giveaways, and more top stories. You can also listen and connect at humboldtlastweek.com.

North Coast State Assemblymember Jim Wood, screenshot from AssemblyAccess

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40 comments

  • Just heard of another friend of mine whose son died of an overdose on heroin/meth cocktail. Week before I heard of this, some friends where having a memorial for another friend who had quit, but girlfriend got out of jail and brought the drugs back. His body wasn’t accustomed anymore to that “just this one time” dose when she returned and he didn’t wake up either.

    Even when they want to quit, their drug-family comes back to make sure they die. So, when are we going to get laws that punish people severely for approaching, while in the possession or under the influence, addicts ordered into treatment? When the hell are we going to break up this VITAL link in the relapse chain? Even while addicts want to get sober, their peers are hellbent on keeping them stuck because misery loves company. Time to penalize that. BIGLY.

    • “So, when are we going to get laws that punish people severely for approaching, while in the possession or under the influence, addicts ordered into treatment?”

      It’s bothersome — people messing with someone’s attempt to get back on track. In this hypothetical, how do you think law enforcement should find and investigate the users that are approaching those in recovery?

    • Thank you very intelligent comment Zookeeper

  • Can’t blame the other person for your lack of control….People need to be responsible for their own lives, but bleeding hearts keep giving these people a excuse not their fault crap… Only you can quit nobody will do it for you…. and by you I mean the addict…

    • That’s the logic I hear for sure. But the reality in practice is, relapse costs taxpayers $$millions when they invest in trying to clean up addicts via the courts and programs. So, emotionally-“logical” arguments such as yours must be open to the microscope because of the massive failures via relapse.

      What is the #1 cause of relapse? Peer influence. Like it or not, that’s the elephant in the living room. So, pass laws that punish people for direct influence of court-ordered $$ rehab addicts or lose money pissing into the wind.

      If other addicts hear of one of their own being deemed “legally unapproachable with drugs”, they would fear their own incarceration (lack of drugs, ie: #1 fear). They’d be less tempted to tempt. And this would directly result in more success and less relapse.

      In the case of the fellow that the wake was for a couple weeks back, he CHOSE to get clean, got clean for many months and then died. The reason he died was because a drug-pal felt ZERO disincentive for luring him back into drugs again. That is a direct proximal cause of death that you’re ignoring. The powerful psychological urge of any person to belong to a social group, once they’ve cast aside their sober friends, overrides even their own powerful wish to get clean. It’s human nature. And, there could be a legal remedy to give newly recovering addicts the edge on staying clean despite that human drive to belong.

      Their old drug friends would fear association with them and push them away. So their only choice would be to seek out and keep seeking out sober companionship and friends. Monkey see, monkey do..

    • In a lot of cases a successful path to recovery requires a combination of both peer support and self-will. From my experience some that are in a place where they can still recover can’t choose recovery by themselves because their use clouds their perspective. Every case is different, for sure.

    • Except when you live in a community that is manipulated by the drug culture B.C. Should be B.S…..? Do you really think it will not spread like a pyramid scheme?? , [edit]

  • there is only one reason i clean up 20 years ago. I didnt want to pay the consequences for my behavior. And every time i got high i ended up in some kind of intuition. When my Dr. fired me. my family ran me off. friends stop giving food money and a place to stay i had two choices. change or stay the same. i put a lot of effort into changing . so stop feeding, them and giving them money, and places to stay. let them pick up there own tap and they will change.. if want to keep paying there way stop complaining about it. bunch of fucking coes .

    • Please don’t blame the people in your life for your relapses. The line between co-dependency and helpful supporting isn’t the same for each person and is very hard to define. The people around the addict are in a “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” situation.

      As a person who has spent a lot of time in the recovery community, it has been my experience that the addicts generally have the best outcomes when they stop blaming others for their behavior and start taking full responsibility for their actions.

  • Just Me is right. My brother died at the age of 34. He would clean up do great. My parents let him back in the house to “help” – they were as “co-dependant” as you can get. His old using buddies started hanging around. He was paid “disability” for being a drug addict. All this nice, nice shit killed him.

    • Soon-to-be Former Supervisor Ryan Dumberg

      No it didn’t. Be honest with us and yourself. Your brother did it to himself.

      • What an articulate and well-reasoned argument.

        • Soon-to-be Former Supervisor Ryan Dumberg

          Haven’t you noticed that ever since Trump became the Republican Party nominee, all of those traditional supposedly conservative values of honor, integrity, honesty, family, patriotism & personal responsibility have gone right out the window as far as Republicans are concerned? 🐘

          Are we actually supposed to take the claim that Social Security Disability benefits killed somebody’s junkie sibling seriously? You want me to provide “…a well-reasoned argument…” to refute that obviously bogus claim?

          Should I also file a lawsuit on the surviving family members’ behalf against the Social Security Administration for killing their family member with kindness?

      • Anti troll league

        Weren’t you just arguing that it is Trump-like to hold the addict responsible for his situation and now you are putting the blame (in a very unsympathetic way) solely on the addict? Not that it goes against your previous post in which the sole point is to insult in the time honored intellectual fashion of the junior high school bully.

        • Soon-to-be Former Supervisor Ryan Dumberg

          “…the sole point is to insult in the time honored intellectual fashion of the junior high school bully.”

          Wasn’t that the Trump 🐘presidential campaign’s motto?

          P.S. — Perhaps “Anti troll league” is too dense to have figured this one out, but the post above by “Dede” is classic dishonest partisan Republican trolling. You don’t actually believe Dede’s story about “disability” benefits killing his imaginary junkie brother, do you? Because I sure as hell don’t (and neither does anyone with at least half-a-brain who is reading this). You would think that murder or manslaughter by “disability” benefits would have made the news, but no…

          “Be Best.”
          —- The First Lady of the U.S.S.A. 🇷🇺(and soon-to-be Former Mrs. Donald Trump #3) Melania Trump

    • “All this nice shit” didn’t kill your brother. Your brother’s actions killed your brother. Stop blaming everyone but the addict. Addiction is a disease and no one should be blamed for having a disease, but how someone with disease chooses to behave in the disease IS their responsibility and no one else’s.

      Addiction is a disease and disability benefits help people with this disease get help. But, surprise, surprise, treatment doesn’t always work; any more than any other medical or physiological treatment always works.

      Addiction is far too complex a disease to be reduced to a soundbite. And there are no easy answers. So how about we stop pointing fingers and start facing the uncomfortable facts. Addiction is a disease of the body, mind, and spirit. It is a disease that is both personal and societal. And whether we like it or not we all have to be part of the answer. This isn’t going to go away just because it’s not “nice” and only happens to “them”. Addition is endemic and can happen anywhere to almost anyone. So you might want to stop pointing fingers of judgment at others—the next people in trouble might be someone you love—or you!

      • Addiction is a disease that is curable. Quite and never look back. Fuck the world and conquer, I should know. As one of my favorite music artists says, “ The high cost of living ain’t nothing like the cost of living high.” Drugs fucking suck and are boring. Live life and die sober!

  • It all boils down to consequences for what you do. being homeless or jobless is no excuse, or reason, to become an addict. Whether it’s returning to drugs after tax money sends you through a program, possession of even a needle (for illegal drug use) or possession of meth or heroin; strict consequences need to make people think about what they are doing, and be afraid of what an arrest will do. In many states/counties, possession of a needle is an automatic felony. As it is now, possession of enough drugs for sales only gets you a night in jail in Humboldt. Nobody is afraid of consequences in Humboldt because the risk is worth the penalties. Drug addicts, dealers and general criminals are coming from all over to Humboldt because they have heard wonderful things about our ‘revolving door’ policy. You can look on LOCO and see people arrested for ‘ounces’ of meth or heroin, or even burglary or car theft; and are released within 10 hours. Don’t expect anything to change unless crime consequences change.

    • I agree that we’ve seen a trend of criminals utilizing loopholes or misdemeanor criteria to continually get slaps on the wrist for offenses. I’ve talked to some people around this community about the “revolving door” you mentioned and I don’t know if I see Humboldt County as a place criminals flock to — it just seems to be something that’s impacting the criminal justice system across the state. Our supervisors recently supported a tough-on-crime initiative (Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act of 2018) and we’ll see if that changes some of this if it moves forward. Estelle Fennell recently told me she has hope if the initiative happens that it won’t have the negative impact on rehabilitation dollars some feared.

      • Since I spent a large part of my life interviewing addicts of all sorts, I can give you an example of how addicts accumulate in a place. Someone has the idea to go buy, use or sell a drug or, most like, met some like minded criminal who told them to come visit them any time. They either know or have heard that a good time easily found in Humboldt Co. They and a friend or two arrive, find congenial company with residents and easy access to drugs. They find it’s cheaper to live here and the hassles from authority and the public are less. So one or two stay but it’s a very fluid community. Some member of the group goes down south, gets into trouble and comes back bringing another one or two. There are usually reasons for them to want to leave or at least nothing much to hold them from leaving. Some stay, some go back. But with every trip, there is another person coming to try it. And some stick. And for each that stick, they bring the opportunity to expose more people here to their style of living.

        • local observer

          so how do you factor in the fact that most of our street addicts are born and raised here? it sounds like you have spent zero time interviewing these people. I speak to every one that is camped out on our front porch on Old Town. I have found that most have mental illness and most have never even left Eureka. do you even bother to read the orbits of the ones that die?

  • Like mental health in general, to have a cure, or to have improvement, you first need an individual who wants to recover, who wants to change.

    In a culture where intoxication is ordinary, where being out of control is normative behavior, the idea that the government has the power, the authority, the will and the wherewithal to control private and personal behavior, seems to have been disproved by the failure of many forms of prohibition.

    When you hit bottom, the choice is help yourself, or die.

    Alcoholics anonymous, nar-anon, and Al-anon are an excellent choice for those wishing to save themselves, for those with a genuine will to live.

    Meetings are starting, in person, and on-line, just about now.

    Think about it, before you take that next drink, toke, hit.

    • Soon-to-be Former Supervisor Ryan Dumberg

      And while you’re at it, stop using Kym Kemp’s blog comments section as the unofficial meeting place of Humboldt County Conservatives Anonymous. Go get some coffee somewhere and talk things over there. You Republicans are going to require emotional support and camaraderie after the Blue Wave of 2018. 🌊

      • Anti troll league.

        Go on. Keep spewing. That worked so well in 2016 that you might just be able make it work as well this time around too. You and the Democrats seem to be the living embodiment of the phrase “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing in the same way and expecting different results.”

        • Soon-to-be Former Supervisor Ryan Dumberg

          This isn’t 2016, Rip Van Winkle! 🛏🕛Time to wake up and smell the coffee! ☕️

          But more importantly for Ryan Sundberg and Virginia Bass, this isn’t a Republican year like 2010 or 2014. Too bad for them, because Dumberg will lose next month and Bass will have to go to a runoff in November when she will lose as a result of a larger voter turnout in the general election.

          P.S. — BLUE WAVE, BABY! 🌊🇺🇸

      • the only blue wave your going to see in tide bowl. how did you like the way the election turned out. . lol.

        • Soon-to-be Former Supervisor Ryan Dumberg

          You do know the 2018 election is right around the corner, don’t you? Right-wing Insurance Salesman Ryan Sundberg sure does, which is why he’s gone into hiding.

      • Read the news. The blue wave failed. Bring the red tide!

        • Soon-to-be Former Supervisor Ryan Dumberg

          “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.” 🇪🇬.
          — Stuart Smalley

  • I agree with “Just Me”, people are gonna do what they want to do. Everyone has to deal with the consequences of their choices, certainly including heroin addticts. I have empathy for how hard it is to quit if they truly want to and try to and can’t.

    I do not agree with enabling addicts by supporting them. Its impossibly expensive both emotionally and financially. Although, If someone looks me in the eye and i can see that starving desperation, i have fed them on the fly. All in all im super dissappointed that there is so much heroin available.

    I knew someone who loved heroin to the extent that she was completely devoted til her death. She had complete disregard to how many times the hospital would save her arm from amputation or death. It was disgusting! Or for her baby in utero who was born born premature, addicted &with hep c. She would get heroin delivered to her in the hospital and could also get it in jail. Rock bottom is death. I dont agree with supporting herion addicts in any way. Im sorry.

    I feel bad for the kids of heroin addicts, they love their parents unconditionally and are very sad to watch them die from it. Maybe we can help their kids instead, feed the kids, house their children and help them to make good choices.

    • I understand your frustration. I think those that have witnessed the process of recovery work would encourage you to be more optimistic but at the same time relapse statistics that I’ve seen for heroin are high. There are some success stories. I feel you’re right about the importance of helping the children of those struggling with addiction.

  • Wood is right that the focus of the government is wrong. In fact it’s down right schizophrenic. It spends money to encourage the loss of all jobs but minimum wage ones, spends money increasing the cost of housing by regulating anything affordable out of existence, spends money on fantasies of innovative development while stopping maintenance of what it already has. Then it salves its collective conscience by handing out grants in small bundles to those who promise to fix the mess it has made. Making noises about social programs does little to offset the damage government has created.

  • Anti troll league

    Strange. Wasn’t personal insult, grammar policing and wholesale condemnation of groups of people not to be permitted? And yet here it is, ongoing without even a pause for an original thought in every section. Conspiracy theory anyone?

  • I don’t really understand why it’s so complicated to figure out. If you’re going to pay someone to sit around all month and cover all their medical costs and provide them food why would they want to change? I’m not against welfare for those that need it, but there should definitely be drug testing involved. This country is over 21 trillion dollars in debt, we cannot afford to pay people to sit around and drink and do drugs and tear our cities and towns apart.

  • Why in heaven`s name does anyone care if an addict or junkie dies? When the do so, it`s simply one less useless parasite and good riddance. I`ve often thought that any responsible government would periodically insert some type of altered drug into the supply of street drugs that would somehow kill off whoever used it.

    • You would have been quite popular in Germany in the 1930’s.

    • Soon-to-be Former Supervisor Ryan Dumberg

      Jonathan Dowe, your swastika is showing. 🐘

      P.S. – Wasn’t this far right-wing ultraconservative fascist B.S. dealt with already during WWII? WTF?!? ✈️💣🗑

  • “THC” absolutely nailed it above in their comment. “If you’re going to pay someone to sit around all month and cover all their medical costs and provide them food why would they want to change?” So TRUE!

    Welfare for those that can show they will use if effectively, drug testing for those receiving any sort of money/support, and finally some sort of work program associated with the receipt of money/support (i.e. paint park bench, pick up trash, pull weeds, etc.).

    Something for nothing isn’t sustaining, right now we are literally paying the homeless to shit on our streets and trash our town!!

    • Soon-to-be Former Supervisor Ryan Dumberg

      “…drug testing for those receiving any sort of money/support…”

      #1) Cocaine Mitch McConnell ❄️
      #2) Dr. Ronny Jackson The Candyman 💊
      #3) Sean Klannity and his $5,000,000 from HUD – thanks Ben Carson! ☕️

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