Drug Abuse Trends in Olympia, Washington
The capital of the state of Washington, Olympia is also the county seat of Thurston County. With a population of 46,479 as of 2010, the city is a cultural hub at the southern tip of the Puget Sound area. Because the city is within 60 miles of Seattle’s metropolitan borders, crime and substance abuse rates tend to follow those of the Emerald City. As such, the Opioid Epidemic has had a major impact on the region. However, increasing rates of drunk driving threaten to overtake synthetic opioids and heroin as the most dangerous substance of abuse.
Heroin Abuse in Olympia
Beginning in the mid-2000s, Thurston County began taking steps to combat the effects of the Opioid Epidemic. While prescription opioid overdose deaths have fallen, heroin overdose has continued to rise at a rapid pace. Subsequently, Olympia opened several syringe exchanges across the area. Between 2006 and 2014, there was a 500% increase in syringes exchanged by the county. In 2013, the program reportedly handed out 1.2 million clean syringes to prevent diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS from spreading further.
Treatment admissions for opioids climbed 197% across the state of Washington in 2015. Still, all drug-related deaths went up by 31% in that time. Opioid-related deaths also increased by approximately a third. In 2013, research revealed that only 3 of 5 doctors authorized to prescribe buprenorphine to treat opioid addiction had written at least one prescription for it. This, despite the 134.7% increase in opioid addiction admissions in Thurston County between 2002 and 2013.
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Drunk Driving Rates Climbing in Olympia
For years, alcohol has been a primary substance of abuse in the Olympia area. Within the 27 blocks of downtown Olympia, public drinking, in particular, has become a mounting problem for residents. In 2014, approximately 8 of 10 arrests in the downtown area were for public drinking and urination. In fact, all calls to downtown police for help increased by 50% between 2009 and 2014.
Additionally, rates of excessive drinking and drunk driving remain higher than the national average. According to law enforcement, most incidents of impaired driving result from poly-drug use. The most common combination is alcohol and marijuana, though other depressants (i.e. painkillers) are often co-abused prior to driving. The number of fatal traffic crashes involving poly-drug impaired drivers has increased an average of 15% each year since 2012. In 2017, a quarter of all traffic fatalities were a result of poly-drug impaired driving.
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Substance Abuse Statistics for Olympia
Of all traffic-related fatalities, 48% involved alcohol in Thurston County between 2009 and 2013.
16% of adults report heavy drinking in the past month in Thurston County.
Between 2006 and 2012, Thurston County had 213 drug-related deaths (heroin overdoses may be underreported).
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The state of Washington has enacted a number of programs to reduce drug-related overdose, as well as rising rates of Hepatitis C infections and infants born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (i.e. opioid withdrawal). The state funds multiple crisis intervention hotlines to help residents navigate emergency situations (i.e. what to do when someone is overdosing, suicide prevention, etc.). Some healthcare providers in Olympia are authorized to prescribe addiction treatment medications to aid individuals in their recovery. However, many publicly-funded programs carry waitlists for addiction treatment services.
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If you’re ready to change your life, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are a variety of inpatient and outpatient residential rehab centers across the state of Washington to help you through recovery. In addition to support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, you have many options to support your sobriety following any drug or alcohol rehab program.