Addressing prescription drug misuse and abuse is a state priority, as far as Washington is concerned. Far too many lives have been affected by prescription opioid abuse and way too many people are losing their lives to this blight.
Prescription drugs (opioid pain killers, stimulants, and depressants) are medications legitimately prescribed by doctors to treat a variety of health problems. Many people in Washington wrongly assume that since they're legal when prescribed by a doctor, they must be safer than illegal drugs.
However, when misused or abused, they can be just as dangerous, and even deadly. In fact, in recent years, the abuse of prescription painkillers has resulted in more deaths than cocaine and heroin combined in the state (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Use of chronic opioid therapy was historically reserved for patients with cancer or end-of-life pain, and this stood true for the State of Washington. The shift toward more liberal use of opioids for chronic, non-cancer pain (CNCP) began in the mid- to late 1980s when an early case series suggested that patients with CNCP, if well chosen, could take opioids long term safely and with few severe problems (e.g., abuse or addiction).
Washington was quick to embrace this. In the mid-1990s, the State Medical Quality Assurance Board issued a new directive. Doctors were under-treating pain. They urged physicians to begin using opioids - semi-synthetic forms of opium such as hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (OxyContin) - which, up until then, had only been used for the most severe types of pain associated with cancer and end-of-life. Now, doctors were encouraged to use them for chronic and acute pain too. Washington, again, was quick to embrace this new outlook.
In Washington State, clinicians and hospitals have gone from about 10 million daily doses of Hydrocodone - Vicodin - to about 45 million daily doses of that one medicine, just in Washington State, so there are enormous increases in the medication being prescribed and used."
Those enormous increases have had an unintended result. More prescriptions have meant more people using prescription opioids. More people using has meant more people abusing. More people abusing has meant more overdoses.
More overdoses have meant more deaths. In the year 2008, more than 500 residents of Washington died of a prescription pain medication overdose - significantly more than those who died in car accidents.
In the year 2016, about 700 residents died from an opioid-related overdose in the State of Washington (Washington Department of Health). How about painkiller use by youth and youthful residents of Washington State? Approximately 3,347 students in 10th grade reported using painkillers (like Vicodin, OxyContin or Percocet) to get high in the last 30 days (going by information sourced from the Healthy Youth Survey, 2016).
Twice as many, approximately 6,695 students in 10th grade, reported misusing someone else's prescription in the last 30 days (Healthy Youth Survey, 2016). In 2017, Washington providers wrote 57.2 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons, compared to the average U.S. rate of 58.7 prescriptions. This represents a 25 percent decline in Washington opioid prescriptions over the past five years (CDC).
The rate of overdose deaths involving opioid prescriptions has followed this trend with an overall decline from 8.0 overdose deaths per 100,000 persons in 2008 to 4.3 overdose deaths per 100,00 persons in 2017.
In the year 2017, there were 742 overdose fatalities involving opioids in Washington — a rate of 9.6 fatalities per 100,000 persons, which is over half the national rate of 14.6 fatalities per 100,000 persons.
The greatest increase in opioid deaths occurred among cases involving heroin, with a rise from 60 deaths in 2010 to 306 deaths in 2017. Synthetic opioid (mainly Fentanyl) involved deaths also increased from 59 deaths in 2013 to 143 deaths in 2017. There were 343 deaths involving prescription opioids in 2017, a decrease from 474 in 2010.
NAS or neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) may occur when a pregnant woman uses drugs such as opioids during pregnancy. The most recent data from Washington state on babies born with NAS/NOWS is from 2013 when there were 7.9 cases of NAS/NOWS per 1,000 hospital births—a more than six-fold increase from 2000 (CDC).
Of the new HIV cases in 2016, 432 occurred in Washington. Among males, 15.1 percent of new HIV cases were attributed to opioid and prescription opioid abuse or male-to-male contact and opioid abuse. Among females, 19.1 percent of new HIV cases were attributed to opioid and prescription opioid abuse.
In 2015, an estimated 12,484 persons were living with a diagnosed HIV infection in Washington — a rate of 208 cases per 100,000 persons. Of those, 16.6 percent of male cases were attributed to opioid and prescription opioid abuse. Among females, 22.4 percent were living with HIV attributed to opioid abuse.
There were approximately 62 new cases of acute HCV (0.9 per 100,000 persons) reported in Washington in 2016 (CDC).In Washington, there are an estimated 54,600 persons living with Hepatitis C (2013-2016 annual average), a rate of 1,000 cases per 100,000 persons. Many of these cases were directly attributable to opioid and prescription opioid abuse and reckless behavior stemming from it.
Fortunately, there are many drug rehabs available in Washington, with a rich foundation with regard to treatment methods. There are many types of treatment centers in the state, such as long term addiction treatment facilities, short term drug abuse treatment, outpatient detoxification programs, outpatient substance abuse treatment services, inpatient drug abuse treatment and others.
There is a vast range of drug and alcohol rehab facilities available in Washington. They include individual psychotherapy, dialectical behavior therapy, couple/family therapy, trauma therapy, trauma-related counseling, cognitive/behavior therapy and others, to name a few. If you need rehab in Washington, all you need do is place a call to any of the available rehab centers.
If you are addicted to alcohol or drugs, it is imperative that you look for professional help as soon as you possibly can. However, you might not know where to start or the options that are open to you. Similarly, you may have little to no idea about the differences between the different treatment facilities and the programs they have in store for their patients.
Do you need help finding the right drug or alcohol rehab facility in your area?
Fill out the form below or call 1-866-726-3478 to get the help you need.