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Drug Trends Report Released for King County, Washington

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The news is out – and the news is not good.

In May, two new reports came out that showed drug use trends ratcheting up in far too many categories in King County, Washington. Public health officials expressed their dismay while the Washington State drug rehab community is gearing up for a tough summer.

This article explores some of the results from the drug trends report for Seattle and King County. What do the trends reveal? What is the good news? What is the bad news? Where can Washington State residents turn for help if they have substance use disorders?

Drug Trends Report, King County

The 2017 Drug Use Trends Report in King County, Washington is published annually by the University of Washington’s Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute. Each year’s report compiles public health data on drug addiction, tracking the volume of calls to helplines run by the Washington State drug rehab community, as well as the number of drug-related police incidents, drug-related admissions to treatment centers, and deaths. The report seeks to provide basic tracking and trend data on substance use, but also provides some insight into the quality of life issues for people struggling with addiction in King County.

This year’s study shared some positive and negative trends related to drug use and addiction in King County:

  • Cocaine use appears to be declining Calls to Washington state drug rehab helpline services for cocaine addiction dropped to their lowest levels in six years. The number of admissions for treatment of cocaine addiction had dropped by 50 percent from 2011 to last year. The number of deaths tied to the drug has stayed fairly consistent over the past decade.
  • Opioid use appears to have doubled Calls to recovery helplines asking about buprenorphine, the opioid withdrawal medication, almost doubled from the prior year to 425.
  • Heroin use is increasing Admissions for heroin treatment has more than doubled over the past seven years. Deaths from heroin overdose have substantially increased from more than a decade ago.
  • Syringe exchange programs succeeding Last year these programs exchanged more than seven million needles, which doubled since 2008.


2017 Overdose Death Report

The King County Medical Examiner’s Office also released their 2017 Overdose Death Report. The statistics they found are indisputably grim:

  • Deaths from drug and alcohol have increased over the past decade.
  • Last year, 52 percent of these deaths involved opioids with other drugs or alcohol.
  • There are now 12.0 deaths tied to opioids per 100,000 people in King County.
  • Fentanyl overdose continues to increase. Sixty-six percent of the deaths from fentanyl were also tied to other drugs or alcohol.
  • Methamphetamine-related deaths have increased strongly over the past 10 years.
  • Deaths tied to overdose are 30 percent higher in the black community and five times greater in the American Indian population.

What do all these numbers reveal and how should the Washington State drug rehab community respond?

More to be Done in Washington State

These studies also highlighted some good news; for example, more than 8,000 naloxone kits were distributed last year, a new detox and addiction treatment facility was opened last year, and 40 more distribution points for buprenorphine were created. However, there is more to do, as the trends clearly show drug use increasing in King County. If you are looking for addiction treatment resources in Washington, please contact us today!  We stand ready to help!