New outpatient clinic opens in Tacoma to treat addiction, fentanyl use

The rampant rise in fentanyl abuse in Pierce County is being met by a new treatment resource. 

On Monday, Ideal Option opened its new clinic in downtown Tacoma to provide access to low-barrier treatment for fentanyl, methamphetamine, alcohol and other substances.

The new clinic, located at 1702 Tacoma Ave South, is Ideal Option’s third location in Pierce County. The outpatient facility offers medication-assisted treatment for those struggling with addiction.

"Treatment is readily available. We understand that timing is very, very important when somebody is ready for help. They need it now," said Rebekah Cantrell, Ideal Option’s peer outreach specialist.

Cantrell personally understands the importance of timely treatment and support. She is four years clean and sober from a 10-year addiction. Since then, Cantrell conducts outreach in Pierce County and south King County. Now as the Ideal Option peer outreach specialist, Cantrell can expand her connections with people on the same streets where she was once challenged.

"People that have actually walked in their shoes—you understand it differently. I get where they’re at. And I think, for me, it honors my recovery to be able to help people start their recovery journey and then see long-term recovery," said Cantrell. 

It was a critical time to open the clinic. The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department said fentanyl-related deaths in the county increased nearly 82% from 2021 to 2022.

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"This is a disease. It changes your brain, and it needs to be looked at as a disease, a chronic condition," said Gurpreet Minhas, a nurse practitioner for Ideal Option. 

"I see hundreds of people all over our city weekly. And people are wanting help. People are afraid, they’re scared they’re going to die," said Cantrell.

Minhas said patients she treats are commonly diagnosed with polysubstance use disorder, where fentanyl is mixed with other illicit drugs without the user even knowing it.

"For patients who come and say I’ve never touched fentanyl, when we go over their results and it’s being laced in other things, they’re surprised. And there’s an overdose that’s happening because they’re not used to it, they don’t have a tolerance for it," said Minhas.

Ideal Option also has locations in Puyallup and Lakewood. The new downtown Tacoma location will host a resource fair on Aug. 25.

The clinic’s recovery services go beyond treatment. It also provides connections to housing, jobs, and other health-related needs to support the journey after addiction.

"It’s a disease that can be treated. With the right resources, the right support, it can be treated. I see it every day," said Cantrell. "We have to come together as a community, as providers, as a city, as a county, as a state and offer these people support so that they can get the help that they need."