A conservative estimate puts the number of people who inject illicit drugs (PWID) in Washington State at more than 33,000. A survey conducted by the UW Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute at 18 syringe exchanges programs, representing approximately 80% of syringes exchanged annually in the state, profiles the health behaviors and health care needs and preferences of injection drug users in Washington. The survey found that:
- Methamphetamine use among people who inject drugs appears to be increasing. Eighty-two percent (82%) reported using methamphetamine in the last three months compared to 69% in 2015.
- About half of people who used methamphetamine as their main drug were interested in reducing or stopping their stimulant use (47%).
- Most people who used heroin as their main drug were interested in reducing or stopping their opioid use (78%).
- The proportion of people who used opioids who had a naloxone kit more than doubled from 24% in 2015 to 59% in 2017 among those outside of King County; the increase was from 47% to 66% in King County.
- Syringe exchange participants have a wide and complex range of health concerns beyond substance use and face multiple hurdles and stigma when accessing health care.
The report was produced with support from the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery. Read the full report at: https://adai.uw.edu/pubs/pdf/2017syringeexchangehealthsurvey.pdf
"Tackling the Opioid Crisis" (Policy Brief, Gov. Jay Inslee, Jan. 2018)
"Can this drug use survey guide Washington policy?" (MyNorthwest.com, Jan. 19)
"Survey of needle exchange users shows meth usage up across Washington" (Spokesman-Review, Jan. 19)