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Preventing the Risk of Accidental Overdoses

Lidia Harding
Blog Programs Substance Abuse Youth and Family Counseliing
accidental overdose to opiates

Cara's Story

Cara* grew up with a mother who was a drug user. She remembers needles all over the house that she had to clean up. When Cara began to suffer from PTSD and anxiety from her childhood trauma, she used substances to cope.

“In the environment, I was living in, drugs were offered to me freely. Being around my mom, I thought it was normal.”

As drug trends have changed over the years, YES is seeing youth turn to drugs like Xanax, OxyContin, and Percocet and purchase them over social media platforms. However, many do not realize these pills could be manufactured with a dangerous drug called Fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a highly potent and dangerous synthetic opioid, 80-100 times more potent than morphine. As a result, it’s a significant cause of accidental overdose for unsuspecting youth.

Cara has a chance at life

After an accidental overdose led to a hospital stay, Cara was referred to YES. Unfortunately, her family couldn’t afford the services, but thanks to donations from YES supporters, she was offered a sliding-scale fee that went down to $0 and started her recovery. Read more about Cara’s story.

Donations to YES help youth like Cara, who are struggling with substance use, by funding education and intervention programs, screenings for risk factors, and treatment through YES’ substance use counseling and treatment services.

Providing substance use education

Thanks to ongoing support, YES offers the East King County community free virtual Alcohol and Drug Education Classes (ADEC) for youth and families. The two-hour intervention class teaches youth ages 12-18 and their parents/caregivers about the impact of substance use. Families learn the impacts of substance use on their bodies and minds, where and how to turn for help, and how to make more informed decisions.

To register for this class, visit our substance use services page.

Providing services where youth are at

Students receive intervention through school-based counseling and treatment before their drug use escalates. YES Substance Use Disorder Professionals (SUDP) trained in both mental health and substance use issues provide in-school assessments, early intervention, prevention activities, referrals, and ongoing support for students in the Bellevue and Lake Washington School Districts. They give students a safe space to connect with others through groups such as Recovery Group, Affected Others Group, and Quit Vaping Now.

YES school-based staff recently thanked donors for contributing to the back-to-school campaign and created a video outlining what support they can offer. Watch it here.

Providing screening for risk factors

YES is reaching out to youth exposed to drug use risks through screenings in school and during their initial assessment at our agency. Youth are asked questions such as – do you know anyone who uses drugs? Have you ever been offered drugs? And how do you cope with uncomfortable emotions? – to gauge their potential risk for drug use.

Depending on their discoveries, YES In Take Specialists recommend programs and services depending on the client’s substance use and risk factors, tailoring a personalized therapeutic process that will result in recovery.

Providing treatment

YES provides clients with substance use challenges with co-occurring disorder counselors who are dually certified in both mental health and substance use treatment. This integrated approach to substance use treatment promotes long-term recovery by addressing substance use issues and their root causes.

Alongside individual 1-to-1 counseling, clients struggling with substance use are simultaneously enrolled in YES substance use treatment groups. These groups embrace the philosophy that young people have the capacity to evaluate their lies and challenges and, through the support of peers and a group facilitator, make the choices that will help them reach their goals in life.

Community support is making a difference

Krisite Necklason says not to let our guard sown

Despite rising overdose deaths, there’s some important good news regarding opioid misuse. In 2021, rates of nonmedical use by high school seniors have fallen by 2%.

But Kristie Neklason, Director of School Based Services at YES, warns us not to let our guard down.

“While numbers are down, this crisis hasn’t gone away. Fentanyl is still very present, and even one life lost is significant. We need to continue to provide these services, so we don’t experience a resurgence.”

* While the client story told here is true, the name, image, and identifying information have been changed to protect the client’s privacy.


Supporting youth struggling with substance use and mental health challenges is made possible through the generosity of supporters like you. Please consider making a gift today to provide children, youth, and families with programs that support their mental health and recovery.

Thanks to donations like yours, no family is turned away because they can’t afford to pay for services.

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