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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Shadle coalition aims to reduce prescription drug abuse in Shadle Neighborhood

By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

The Shadle Prevention and Wellness Coalition has partnered with the Washington public health campaign “Starts With One” to reduce cases of prescription drug abuse and misuse in the Shadle Neighborhood in north Spokane.

The coalition was founded in 2019 and is funded by grant money provided by the Washington state Health Care Authority. It includes members of the community as well as representatives from schools, government, law enforcement, businesses and a variety of community and civic organizations. The focus is on promoting a healthy community by working to reduce the misuse of drugs, alcohol, marijuana and tobacco by youth, said coalition coordinator Grace Wilkowski.

The Shadle coalition is one of five in Spokane County, Wilkowski said. The work it does is varied, including partnering with Big Brothers, Big Sisters to recruit adult mentors, a substance abuse prevention program and a seven-week Strengthening Family program. A student assistance professional is based in Salk Middle School, and the coalition also runs a Safe Server program designed for bartenders.

The next Strengthening Families program, which meets twice a week, begins Sept. 22. The program involves parents and their children. Interested families can send an email to for more information.

A 2020 survey of Shadle residents showed that 52% of respondents believe drug misuse is a moderate or serious problem for local youth, Wilkowski said. Recently opioids have been a leading cause of injury-related deaths in Washington, she said.

“Most addictions usually start in the home, taking medication from a loved one,” she said.

The Starts With One campaign is an educational effort focusing on prescription drug misuse that is geared toward young adults and their parents. A key component is educating people about safe storage of drugs, which fits with the coalition’s drug take-back events and the distribution of more than 500 medication lock-up boxes in the last year.

“Having this partnership is very vital,” she said.

Previously, the Drug Enforcement Agency held two drug take-back events in Spokane each year. Now each of the five coalitions in Spokane County sponsors two take-back events each year, maximizing the number of places people can drop off unused medication that needs to be properly disposed.

The DEA will handle the destruction of the drugs collected at the coalition’s collection events, Wilkowski said.

The next drug take-back event is scheduled for Oct. 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at COPS Northwest, 2215 W. Wellesley Ave., Suite D.

Wilkowski said she’s proud of the work the coalition has been able to do even though it was created only a few months before COVID-19 hit. It has forced the organization to be innovative, particularly when it comes to recruiting coalition members and volunteers.

“I think we’ve definitely had a lot of success,” she said.


Correspondent Nina Culver can be reached at