Saturday, December 4, 2021

‘Public health emergency’: King County sets new record for fatal drug and alcohol overdose in 2021

King County has seen the largest increase in drug and alcohol overdose deaths in one year, in more than a decade.

Fatal overdoses this year exceeded the 24% rise in deaths recorded in 2020 in the third quarter of 2021, according to data released by the King County medical examiner.

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The dramatic rise in fatal overdoses reflects state and national trends.


Overdose-related deaths in King County have increased by 118% over the past decade, from 245 deaths reported in 2011 to 598 deaths so far in 2021. This year’s figure includes deaths identified by the medical examiner as likely overdoses that are still pending. official toxicological report.

Fentanyl-related deaths also increased from 171 in 2020 to 228 deaths in 2021.

'Public health emergency': King County sets new record for fatal drug and alcohol overdose in 2021

“Overdose deaths are a public health emergency caused by the supply of extremely toxic drugs,” Seattle and King County Health Officer Brad Fingood said in an email.

Finegood called for a doubling of “proven public health solutions” to prevent deaths by reducing stigma and increasing access to information, treatment and naloxone.

In response to the spike in deaths, King County launched an awareness campaign in late October to promote the safe return drug program in the county.

Items can be dropped at various drop-off points throughout King County, which can be found by visiting kingcountysecuremedicinereturn.org/find-a-drop-box-map.

Suitable items include:

  • Medicines in any form (tablets, capsules, creams, liquids)
  • Prescription drugs
  • Over-the-counter medicines
  • Controlled Substances
  • Medicines for pets

Residents can also call 800-633-7765 to request a secure mail-in drug return envelope.

“With the rapid rise in overdose deaths and increased consumption of controlled substances during the pandemic, there is no time to wait when it comes to removing unused prescription drugs from our medical cabinets,” said King County Vice Chairman Regan Dunn, who sponsored the campaign. , the message says.

The US government reported 93,000 overdose deaths in 2020 – an increase of 21,000 from the previous year, the largest annual jump since 2016, when the total number of deaths rose by 11,000. Experts cited quarantine and other pandemic restrictions. which isolate people with drug addiction and make it difficult to find treatment.

More residents died from drug overdose in 2020 than in any other year, according to the Washington State Department of Health, in at least the past decade. Fatal drug overdoses increased by more than 30% in 2019 – more than double that of any other year in the past decade.

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