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'An epidemic that’s killing this generation' - state to declare opioid crisis

Kyle Brinton and Brittany Johnson (Family provided photo)

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- On Monday, state lawmakers will introduce Senate Bill 6150, legislation that declares the opioid epidemic as a "public health crisis."

The indication would increase access for treatment and recovery resources from state agencies.

The crisis has been a continued point of emphasis from Gov. Inslee, who held a special summit in October on the opioid epidemic and urged further action in his State of the State on Tuesday.

"We must build on our current work on opioids," Inslee said.

On average, two people in the state die from opioid overdose every day, according to the Attorney General. And from 2010 to 2015, heroin deaths more than doubled.

Lacey's Kyle Brinton died from a heroin overdose in October 2017. He was 31.

The coroner told his family he died from smoking the opiate.

"He's never going to watch his kids grow up, or son be born, that was absolutely devastating," said Brittany Johnson, Brinton's pregnant fiancée.

Kyle's family said he first used opiates when he was a teenager when he experimented with OxyContin.

He then battled a heroin addiction, but had been clean of the drug for nearly three years before he relapsed in October.

"He was the person that hated the drug more than anyone," said Johnson, who's set to deliver their son, Knox in April. "So I always thought it would be me if either one of us relapsed."

Johnson described the addiction a life-long battle and says she's nervous she herself will relapse.

"Going through the grieving process, being six months pregnant, losing Kyle, having these kids, trying to do life, and maintaining sobriety is not easy. So it's something you have to work hard for every single day. But it's a choice you have to make, and you have to want it," said Johnson.

Kyle's mom, Shannie Jenkins, will join lawmakers and health officials on Monday as Governor Inslee addresses the statewide epidemic.

"This is a crisis and we're losing a generation," said Jenkins, wearing a picture of Kyle around her neck.

Jenkins said she's not ashamed of the nature of her son's death.

She will join Governor Inslee on Monday as she continues to educate the public and lawmakers on the dangers of opioids.

"My son did not deserve to die and neither do all of these other addicts out there fighting this battle," said Jenkins.

Insee and state officials are holding a press conference at 9:30 am. Monday to give more information on the state's plans.

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