Washington heroin use deaths up especially in youth

first_imgOpioid related deaths by residence county, including overdoses from heroin and related prescription drugs.This information is provided by the University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute in a report entitled “Heroin Trends Across Washington State.”County 2000-2002 deaths 2009-2011 deathsCowlitz 20 50Pend Oreille 1 6Clallam 17 30Skamania 4 6Snohomish 105 290Klickitat 1 7Grays Harbor 4 24Spokane 91 155Skagit 16 37Chelan 7 24Lewis 8 26Asotin 4 6Stevens 8 10Okanogan 10 14Mason 5 17Whatcom 37 56Jefferson 1 10Pierce 127 232Douglas 8 10Grant 12 22Thurston 12 58King 309 467Whitman 0 6Clark 50 89Benton 8 32Kitsap 18 50Yakima 24 43Island 6 12Kittitas 2 5Walla Walla 5 5Franklin 1 6Adams 1 2Columbia 1 1Ferry 0 1Garfield 0 0Lincoln 2 2Pacific 2 4San Juan 3 4Wahkiakum 1 2State Total 931 1,821SEATTLE — Heroin use and related deaths have increased significantly across Washington over the past decade, especially among people younger than 30, according to a new study released Wednesday.Young people are finding it cheaper and easier to get heroin than prescription opiates these days. Both kinds of drugs offer a similar high, and a similar addiction danger, said Caleb Banta-Green, author of the report and a researcher at the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute.The largest increases in heroin use and abuse in Washington state were outside of metropolitan areas, where drug treatment and awareness are lowest.Overdose deaths from heroin or related prescription drugs more than doubled in Cowlitz, Snohomish, Grays Harbor, Chelan, Lewis, Mason, Thurston, Benton and Kitsap counties between 2000 and 2011.“It’s a big change,” Banta-Green said, adding, however, that he’s not surprised by the data.He attributed part of the increase to new state rules that make it harder to get pharmaceutical opiates because of better prescription tracking.Washington is ahead of the nation in that trend, Banta-Green said. He expects other states also may see an increase in heroin use after they tighten their prescription rules.Washington is also setting an example for the nation with new pharmacy rules that allow pharmacists to distribute overdose response kits, including a medical antidote to heroin, naloxone, without a prescription from a doctor. So far, only one pharmacy in Washington is participating in the program, but Banta-Green expects that will change.last_img

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