Tuesday, May 10, 2016

NPAC learns about heroin and its impact on Seattle

SPD bike officers saved a man on Sunday from a potentially fatal overdose by using a dose of Naloxone nasal spray. This incident marks the fourth time police have successfully used Naloxone since officers began carrying it in mid-March.  The program was launched in March in response to the heroin crisis in Seattle. “Our officers provide services every day to people struggling with addiction,” said Chief Kathleen O’Toole during the program's launch. “With Naloxone we hope to save more lives."

According to the King County Task Force on Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction, "There were 156 heroin-related deaths in King County in 2014, the highest number in 20 years. Substance abuse is one of the root causes of homelessness, and drug overdose is currently the leading causes of death among people who are homeless."

The link between crimes like shoplifting and drug addiction was evident during SPD's recent crackdown on the open air drug market downtown. "Detectives also got a good look at the area’s underground economy in action, as shoplifters sold armloads of stolen goods—like Seahawks jerseys, sunglasses and even bottles of shampoo—to crowds at bus stops and on street corners. Shoplifters took the cash from those sales, detectives say, and went straight to area drugs dealers."

The heroin crisis is showing up in our neighborhoods as discarded used needles in public places. Earlier this year, the NPAC Social Services Committee hosted a needle clean-up training which has since been replicated among other organizations.

That's why Steve Freng, Prevention and Treatment Manager at the Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, was invited to speak during the May NPAC meeting. Dr. Freng provided information about heroin trafficking, heroin-related trends in our state, and the link between prescription painkillers and heroin.

Here are a few of Dr. Freng's slides:

Since 2009, heroin-related admissions to drug treatment programs increased significantly in Washington and King County.

Most new heroin users have abused painkillers. It's much cheaper to sustain an addiction to opioids by using heroin than continuing to use prescription pills.

Black tar heroin is much cheaper locally than it is nationally.

Seattle's heroin is largely transported from Mexico up I=5.

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