Overdose deaths in Seattle's King County on track to surpass 2022 record

Health officials reported that the surge in overdose deaths has been mostly caused by fentanyl, which was involved in 70 percent of all confirmed overdose deaths.

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
After the new King County overdose dashboard went online Tuesday, it was revealed that overdose deaths are far outpacing previous years.

According to the dashboard, there were 1,008 deaths in King County related to drug and alcohol poisoning in 2022, an average of 2.76 a day. As of March 15, already 208 people have died due to drug and alcohol poisoning, an average of 2.81 a day.

Health officials reported that the surge in overdose deaths has been mostly caused by fentanyl, which was involved in 70 percent of all confirmed overdose deaths that occurred from Jan. 2022 to Nov. 2022.

Fentanyl was responsible for the deaths of 708 people in 2022, an average of 1.94 a day. As of March 15, 2023, 172 people in King County died of an overdose involving fentanyl, an average of 2.32 a day.

Also in 2022, there were 525 opioid and stimulant deaths in King County, a record high, with an average of 17 overdose deaths have occurred each week in King County in 2022,  In 2012, there were only 45 overdose deaths involving an opioid and a stimulant reported for the year.

The county refers to an opioid as fentanyl, heroin and/or prescription opioids while stimulant is defined as meth and/or cocaine.

According to their new dashboard, approximately 25 overdose deaths have happened each week in the first 11 weeks of 2023. However, the number could be much higher as 57 cases are still pending county toxicologist reports.

The department reported that the most impacted communities are the homeless, American Indian and Alaskan Native (non-Hispanic), and Black (non-Hispanic) residents, as well as Communities located in Seattle and South King County, particularly Sea-Tac and Tukwila.

Earlier this month, in response to increasing reports from King County bus drivers regarding rampant public use of fentanyl and other drugs by addicts on transit systems, one of the department's health officials claimed that secondhand exposure "just wasn't happening" and stated, "We don't want people to be using in private spaces alone, we want people to be using in a place where if they overdose they can be discovered and helped through that overdose."

In 2018, lawsuits filed by Seattle and King County against Perdue Pharma revealed that over 80 percent of the people living on the streets in the area have a substance abuse issue despite the city and county spending billions of dollars on homeless services and what they refer to as “harm reduction” for addicts but the problem has only continued to increase.

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