PixabaySaturday, April 30th, is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Now is a good time to go through your medicine cabinet and get rid of expired or no longer needed drugs. These can fall into the wrong hands by accident with children or by theft. Here is a list of locations within 50 miles of Everett. Nat ‘l Drug Take Back Day North Sound. Designated drop off sites are being added so check back often. This follows on the heels of the most recent overdose information from the State of Washington which shows alarming numbers for the State, and Snohomish County in particular.

According to the Washington State Department of Health, new data show that deaths from drug overdoses continue to increase for Washington residents. Provisional data as of April 4th show drug-related overdose deaths surpassed 2,000 in 2021, a more than 66 percent increase compared to 2019.

Courtesy of the Washington State Department of Health

Looking at the Drug Overdose Mortality County Map For 2016-2020 Combined from www.doh.wa.gov, Snohomish County is labeled a deep purple, indicating that all drug mortality rates are higher here than the state average. King, Island and Skagit counties are all equal to the state average. Snohomish County’s all drug mortality rate, once broken down, shows these figures: 

County: Snohomish

Any Drug Death: 19.6

Any Opioid Death: 15.4

Synthetic Opioid Death: 7.4

Psychostimulant Death: 7.4 

“Overdose deaths are a public health emergency, and fentanyl is a major driver,” said Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, MD, MPH, Chief Science Officer in a DOH Communications release. “What looks like a prescription oxycodone pill could be a counterfeit with more than enough fentanyl to kill. People who use drugs should assume that any drugs bought on the street, online, or from a friend has fentanyl.”

According to the WA State DOH, Fentanyl overdose deaths have increased about 10-fold since 2016, though most deaths involved more than one substance. 

The 2021-2022 Washington State Opioid and Overdose Response Plan is a 48 page document outlining the steps the state is currently taking to address all aspects of the opioid crisis, from the historical context to its current evolution and the resources available to those in recovery or currently misusing opioids. 

The main goals of the Response Plan are as follow: 

  • Goal 1 – Prevent opioid and other drug misuse
  • Goal 2 – Identify and treat opioid misuse and stimulant use disorder
  • Goal 3 – Ensure and improve the health and wellness of people who use opioids and other drugs
  • Goal 4 – Use data and information to detect opioid misuse, monitor drug user health effects, analyze population health, and evaluate interventions
  • Goal 5 – Support individuals in recovery

The full document can be read here.

If you are witnessing an overdose, the most important thing to do is call 9-1-1. According to the DOH, warning signs of an overdose include: 

Courtesy of the Washington State Department of Health and the Washington Recovery Hot Line
  • Extremely slow breathing or heavy snoring
  • Confusion or difficulty being awakened
  • Blue lips or skin
  • Very small pupils

If on hand, administer naloxone to reverse the overdose. According to the DOH, “Naloxone or brand name Narcan® temporarily stops the effect of opioids, allowing someone to wake up from an opioid overdose and start breathing again.” All first responders whill have Naloxone. But even if you have administered Naloxone, still call 9-1-1. Naloxone is an immediate life-saving fix, but more medical treatment is necessary.

There are also several treatment options available in the state of Washington. One such option is the Washington Recovery Hot Line which provides many resources from “Medications for Opioid Use Disorder” to “Treatment for People with an Emotional or Mental Health Challenge”. The Hot Line can be reached at the number 1.866.789.1511 and the website, www.warecoveryhelpline.org