The 18th Annual King County Mental Health & Substance Abuse Forum on Nov. 13, 2014 featured Seatle Mayor Ed Murray, Dep. King County Exec. Fred Jarrett, Jim Vollendroff, Dir. of King County`s mental health and substance abuse services and a parental perspective from TV reporter/producer Penny LeGate, as well as stories of recovery from the public.
Drug-caused deaths and heroin use among young adults increased in 2013, according to the annual King County Drug Trends report. The King County Drug Trends Workgroup releases an annual report on substance use trends each year. Findings for 2013 were presented at the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Community Epidemiology Workgroup on June 5, 2013.
“Overall, drug-caused deaths were up in 2013,” says Caleb Banta-Green, PhD, MPH, MSW, research scientist at the UW Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute, lead author on the report. “Pharmaceutical opiates (e.g. OxyContin, Vicodin, methadone), were the most common drugs detected, although down from their peak in 2009, and heroin deaths have doubled to 99 in 2013 compared to heroin deaths in 2009.”
Heroin use has increased in young adults, ages 18 to 29, and over the past four years treatment admissions are up substantially for heroin. Methamphetamine abuse persists as a major impetus for those entering treatment, and increased deaths in 2012 and 2013 may be linked to the increase in use coupled with heroin.
Major findings in the 2013 report include:
Heroin use continues to increase in King County and statewide; young adults are a major population of concern. Heroin involved deaths among those under 30 has increased from 7 deaths (14%) in 2009 to 34 deaths (34%) in 2013, the numbers for all ages increased from 49 to 99 respectively.
Methamphetamine indicators are up as are indicators of combined use with heroin. Methamphetamine in police evidence tests continued to increase for the third year in a row though the numbers were well below the level of 2001. Approximately one-third of those who reported any use of methamphetamine at treatment admission also mentioned heroin use, a substantial proportional and numerical increase since 2005. Deaths involving heroin and methamphetamine together increased substantially in 2012 and 2013.
Pharmaceutical opioids remain the most common drugs identified in drug-caused deaths--125 in total in 2013--though for the past few years the level has been approximately 25% lower than the peak in 2009. Treatment admissions with pharmaceutical opioids indicated as the primary problem declined somewhat in 2013.
While marijuana use is widespread, indicator data are down. Police evidence for people testing positive for marijuana is down substantially from the peak in 2009 and treatment admissions for marijuana have declined for the fourth year in a row.
More police evidence tests were positive for methylone than MDMA (“Ecstasy”) in 2013 for the first time, with methylone first appearing in substantial numbers in 2011. Methylone is similar to MDMA in terms of its chemical structure and its physical and psychological effects. Users believe that “Molly” is pure MDMA, however when evidence has been tested it is often methamphetamine or methylone.
Overdose prevention education and take-home naloxone (also known as Narcan, an opiate overdose antidote) distribution are increasing across Washington via syringe exchanges, clinician prescribing, pharmacist direct dispensing and jails. Among heroin injectors surveyed in King County in 2013 28% had take-home-naloxone in their possession in the prior 3 months. Overdose education and a naloxone locator are available at www.stopoverdose.org.
The King County Drug Trends Workgroup includes diverse local experts on substance use including people working in street outreach, law enforcement, public health, treatment and other service providers. A complete copy of the report is available online at http://adai.uw.edu/pubs/cewg/CEWG_Seattle_June2014.pdf.
Roger Roffman is a UW professor emeritus of social work who has studied marijuana dependence interventions for 30 years, and was a sponsor of Initiative 502, which legalized recreational marijuana in Washington. In an interview with UW News and Information, he answered a few questions about his new book, “Marijuana Nation: One Man’s Chronicle of America Getting High: From Vietnam to Legalization.” The book follows Roffman’s exposure to marijuana while serving as a US Army officer in Vietnam, his personal use (and cessation of use), and his research and activism on behalf of patients who would benefit from medical marijuana. From lobbying in Washington, to talking to doctors and nurses in oncology wards, and watching his brother struggle with addiction, Roffman has experienced the layered and complex relationship Americans have with marijuana first-hand. He was a co-sponsor of Washington State Initiative 502, which legalized marijuana for adults.
The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications.
Collection site locations are now available. More than 50 sites in Washington State! Check back often; sites are added daily. Please contact the Call Center at 1-800-882-9539 if you require assistance.
This is the first edition of SAMHSA's Behavioral Health Barometer: Washington 2013, one of a series of State and national reports that provide a snapshot of behavioral health in the United States. The reports present a set of substance use and mental health indicators as measured through data collection efforts sponsored by SAMHSA, including the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services. This array of indicators provides a unique overview of the Nation’s behavioral health at a point in time as well as a mechanism for tracking change and trends over time. As new data become available, indicators highlighted in these reports will be updated to reflect the current state of the science and incorporate new measures of interest.
The UW Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute has received a grant from the state Attorney General’s Office to provide training
and education for health professionals and the general public on the
subject of chronic pain management and cannabis use.
The grant, to Beatriz Carlini, Phd, MPH,
research scientist, and her colleagues at the Institute, will assess
and address gaps in science-based training and education for a number of
groups: staff of community organizations that provide information to
individuals suffering from chronic pain, health care providers and the
“Chronic pain is a major public health issue,” Carlini said. “This
project will offer non-judgmental, science-based information to
clinicians and to the general public on the role of medical marijuana as
an option in alleviating intractable pain in our state.”
The ultimate goal of the project is to increase awareness of the
options available to treat pain and other medical conditions, and to
decrease unnecessary suffering among people living with chronic pain.
The project will provide and information and education about medical
conditions and populations for whom cannabis is recommended, and for
whom it is not recommended, as well as possible side effects and risks.
“Molly” is a slang term for a
drug that may be sold as “Ecstasy”/MDMA or a similar related drug chemically known
as methylone. It may be in a tablet form or a powder. Methylone is a
synthetic drug related to the Khat plant from east Africa. This class of
drugs (MDMA and Methylone) are both stimulants and psychedelics that users
report create a “warm” pro-social feel.
However, no matter what a drug
is sold as or what it looks like, the user does not know what they are
taking. They do not know how strong it is and they don’t know how their
body is going to react to it. Serious, negative short terms health effects
have been reported.
In 2012 there were 81 drugs sent
to the crime lab from King County based law enforcement that tested positive
for synthetic stimulant/psychedelics of which 26 were BZP (a product put
in bogus MDMA), followed by 22 MDMA, and 9 other compounds.
The public needs to be aware
that in Washington state there is legal immunity from drug possession charges and
minor in possession of alcohol for those who have an overdose and bystanders
who seek medical aid; more information is at www.stopoverdose.org.
The Washington State Liquor Control Board today approved the
filing of proposed supplemental rules that, if ultimately enacted, will help
govern Washington State’s system of producing, processing and retailing
recreational marijuana. The Board first proposed rules on
July 3, 2013, then chose to revise and re-file them after receiving
public input at five public hearings across Washington. A key component of implementation is that the recreational
market would be tightly regulated to prevent diversion of marijuana to minors, and reduce any impact of adolecent use.
rules fulfill the public expectation of creating a tightly-regulated and
controlled system while providing reasonable access to participation in the
market, said WSLCB Board Chair Sharon Foster. “Importantly, we believe these rules
meet the eight federal government enforcement priorities within Thursday’s
guidance memo from the Department of Justice.”
Public Safety Elements
safety is the top priority of the Washington State Liquor Control Board.
All grows must meet strictly controlled on-site security requirements;
Strict surveillance and transportation requirements;
Robust traceability software system that will track inventory from start to
Criminal background checks on all license applicants;
Tough penalty guidelines for public safety violations including loss of license;
Restricting certain advertising that may be targeted at children.
Consumer Safety Elements
proposed rules provide a heightened level of consumer safety that has not
Packaging and label requirements including dosage and warnings;
Only lab tested and approved products will be available;
Defined serving sizes and package limits on marijuana in solid form;
This morning, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder informed the governors of Washington and Colorado that the Department of Justice would not interfere with the states' implementation of ballot initiatives legalizing the recreational use of marijuana for adults.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), in a memo sent to U.S. attorneys across the country, described the decision as part of an update to its federal marijuana enforcement policy, which will now focus on eight specific concerns, including preventing the use of marijuana by minors and making sure legal marijuana products in Washington and Colorado do not travel across state lines.
The DOJ plans to rely on local law enforcement agencies to enforce their own marijuana laws, but reserves the right to "aggressively" step in if they feel the states are not adopting effective regulatory schemes.
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee held a news conference earlier today to discuss the change in policy, and cautioned that there are still some unanswered questions, including concerns about differing regulations for the state's medical marijuana system, and whether interstate banks will be willing to work with state marijuana businesses given the fact the federal government still considers pot illegal.
The Washington State Liquor Control Board, charged with writing and implementing the state's marijuana regulations, responded with a statement thanking the Obama administration and particularly Mr. Holder and the Dept. of Justice for its guidance today.
Saturday, August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day, observed each year to recognize victims of
overdose. In Washington state, Gov. Jay
Inslee issued a proclamation supporting the observance of the day, noting that most overdoses can be prevented and reversed before they become fatal. The governor lauds the effectiveness of the Overdose Prevention and Response Law in saving lives.