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Like many states across the US, Washington has shown a growing need for substance use treatment in recent years. Alcoholism and drug addiction affect more than just their sufferers, greatly impacting the user’s loved ones. In fact, due to economic costs and trends in crime rates, treating those who struggle with substance dependency may even benefit society as a whole. We can see this in recent statistics regarding the effects of Washington addiction on the state, which inform the variables that treatment centers must take into account when offering their services to struggling Washingtonians.
Washington Addiction Statistics
While alcohol and drug use statistics in Washington do not greatly exceed those of the United States, they have still hovered slightly above the national average for several years. A 2015 behavioral health barometer shows that rates of alcohol dependence ranged from 6.6% to 7.7% between 2010 and 2014, affecting at least 383,000 Washington citizens aged 12 or older. Dependence on illicit drugs remained steady at 2.7% throughout that period of time, affecting 159,000 individuals (with only a temporary increase to 3% between 2012 and 2013).
The troublesome aspect of these figures presents itself when considering the number of Washingtonians who have received treatment for their substance use disorder. At the time of the survey, more than 90% of alcoholics in Washington remained untreated. The rate of untreated drug users was only a mere 1.1% lower.
Specific drug trends indicate that Washington addicts have trouble with heroin and opioids in particular. A 2014 report published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that rates of heroin abuse have been on the rise, accounting for over a fifth of all drug seizures by law enforcement in Seattle, with the rest of Washington State voicing major concerns regarding the rates of heroin-related deaths.
The only drugs that showed notable declines in problematic use were cocaine and synthetic drugs, such as spice and bath salts. Benzodiazepines such as Klonopin and Xanax maintained low numbers, although law enforcement found that they were often used in combination with other drugs—a practice which greatly increases overdose potential and other dangers.
Impact on Washington State
Drug-related death rates in Washington addiction do not appear to have changed much between 2006 and 2016, according to a preliminary report by the Washington State Department of Health. Even so, the effects of recent trends can be seen when breaking the numbers into categories.
The Department of Health’s report on opioid-related overdose deaths shows that opioids have resulted in the loss of between 647 and 719 people per year when using calculation methods designed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heroin overdose deaths, however, rose from 53 in 2006 to an average of 300 between 2014 and 2016. Furthermore, while overdoses attributed to synthetic opioids were at their lowest in 2007 with only 37 deaths recorded, this number nearly doubled by 2016, in which preliminary data returned 87 results.
Varying methodologies returned slightly different numbers, resulting in a less dramatic surge of heroin deaths over the 10-year period recorded. Still, it appears that the recent trend of lacing heroin with substances such as fentanyl and carfentanil has resulted in a notable increase in deaths throughout Washington State. Results from both of the Department’s methodologies also indicated that heroin overdoses are more likely to affect younger individuals, whereas older users more commonly die from prescription drug overdose.
While opioids may be a leading cause of drug-related deaths in Washington addiction, crime is another story. According to a 2015 report by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, 42.7% of crimes against society involve the use of drugs and alcohol. Heroin factors into over 3,000 of the more than 14,000 drug-related incidents reported, but more than 4,000 involve meth and other amphetamines. In fact, law enforcement seized almost three times as much amphetamine supply as they did heroin in 2015.
Drugs and alcohol also play a role in numerous crimes that are not typically considered drug-related. Perpetrators were suspected of substance abuse in 10% or more incidents of murder (10.2%), rape (15.9%), aggravated assault (10.4%), simple assault (11.3%), kidnapping (11.1%), stolen property (10%), and weapon law violations (10.2%).
While recent economic analyses are scarce, a 2005 report prepared for the Department of Social and Health Services indicates high losses. In 2005, substance abuse was estimated to have cost Washington State approximately $5.21 billion, which translates to a yearly loss of $832 per citizen not currently incarcerated.
Comparisons to national economic costs showed that Washington’s efforts toward treatment and prevention efforts mitigated potential losses by 40%, but the time of these estimates is troubling. Mortality rates alone accounted for $2.03 billion in losses, $1.21 billion from alcohol and $824 million from drugs. The recent trends in overdose deaths may very well predict greater losses for Washington and its taxpayers in years to come.
Getting Help in Washington
The statistics on Washington addiction, crime, and economic costs illustrate a growing problem with drugs and alcohol, one that Washington’s prevention efforts have only partially been able to stall. Most recently updated in 2014, a trend report by the Department of Health noted that Washington missed its goal to reduce drug-induced mortality rates to 1.2 per 100,000 people by 2010. This was missed by a wide margin, with 15 drug-induced deaths per 100,000 people in 2011. The state has since updated its goal to reduce these dates to a rate of 11.3 per 100,000 people in 2020, but the report indicates that meeting this goal is unlikely.
With trends as they are, Washingtonians must take it upon themselves to seek treatment and avoid becoming a part of the statistics. This is easier said than done. Fortunately, good help is not hard to find. Families who wish to enlighten addicted loved ones as to the troublesome future that lies ahead if they continue using can seek intervention assistance. Professional interventionists can help you set up a heart-to-heart with your struggling loved one, setting up an appointment for them to receive treatment at a qualified facility.
As far as treatment itself is concerned, there are numerous options. Those who seek a traditional pathway to recovery may prefer a facility that utilizes a 12-step model, supplemented by cognitive behavioral therapy to address underlying issues. Some may prefer treatment out of state, in which case they may seek a facility such as Aspire Recovery, which offers numerous holistic methods so that you may increase your focus on spiritual growth while still taking advantage of their traditional options.
No matter what, the best facility for you or your loved one will generally be one that helps you work toward a brighter future. A treatment center that offers life skills education and a strong focus on relapse prevention can help you design a program of recovery that will continue working for you long after you discharge from care.
Washington addiction statistics may appear overwhelming, but you do not have to be a part of them. Seek help today, and you can change these numbers for the better—without becoming one of them.