In UW NewsBeat, Brian Donohue reports that heroin overdoses claimed the lives of 132 people in King County in 2015, and treatment admissions involving that drug surpassed those of alcohol for the first time, according to an annual report published today by the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute.
In compiling data from multiple public agencies, the Drug Use Trends report (download PDF) reflects 2015 usage trends of multiple drug types and the effects – requests for information and referrals, treatment admissions, police evidence tests, etc. – experienced by drug users and the broader community.
“Drug deaths and substance-use disorders continue to have a serious impact across King County," said Caleb Banta-Green, senior research scientist and the report’s lead author. “At the same time, important interventions including substance-use disorder treatment, clean-syringe distribution, and use of the opioid overdose antidote, naloxone, are all increasing.”
- Heroin has been the most common drug identified in overdose deaths for the past two years. Half of young adults 18 to 29 years of age entering treatment for the first time for heroin report smoking and half report injecting heroin, a substantial increase in smoking compared to 2009. Total drug treatment admissions for heroin surpassed alcohol for the first time in 2015.
- Pharmaceutical opioid problem indicators have declined somewhat, but remain high.
- Illicitly manufactured, synthetic opioids, such as acetyl fentanyl have begun to be detected in some deaths as well as in police evidence reports.
- Methamphetamine problem indicators persist and recently users have begun combining methamphetamine with heroin and this combination in deaths has increased substantially.
- Cocaine persists as a drug of abuse associated with morbidity and mortality with modest declines in recent years. Injectors’ use of cocaine and heroin together has declined as use of methamphetamine and heroin together have increased
- Marijuana treatment admissions have declined.