Overdose deaths increase 65% in Seattle's King County in 2023

The Seattle Fire Department often treats the same patients multiple times for opioid overdoses, sometimes even multiple times on the same day.

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
New data has revealed that opioid overdoses have increased 65 percent since last year in Washington’s most populous county. Overdose deaths were already on track to eclipse last year's record highs.

According to data from the Seattle and King County Public Health, the county’s first responders' calls for opioid overdoses have increased 65 percent in 2023 over 2022, and in July, EMS crews responded to 760 opioid overdose calls.

From January to the end of July, first responders answered 4,868 overdose calls, compared with 2,947 during the same time frame in 2022. The Seattle Fire Department often treats the same patients multiple times for opioid overdoses, sometimes even multiple times on the same day.

808 people died of overdoses so far in 2023, which is on pace to surpass 2022’s record total of 1,001 overdose deaths, the majority of them attributed to fentanyl, according to the King County Medical Examiner.

The Seattle Times reported last month that “Washington state now has the fastest-rising drug deaths in the nation.”

In January, it was revealed that due to the record number of fentanyl overdose deaths in the county, the medical examiner was running out of places to store the dead bodies.

Things have gotten so bad that The Washington State Health Care Authority launched a campaign, encouraging teens to carry Naloxone, a drug to counteract an overdose, and even offers buttons to wear that read “I carry Naloxone.”

However, it is unlikely to help the situation as Seattle and King County Public Health distributed over 10,000 naloxone kits, and roughly 100,000 fentanyl test strips, in 2022, yet the numbers of overdoses and overdose deaths increased, even as Seattle and King County have spent billions of dollars on services and what they refer to as “harm reduction” for addicts, yet the problem has only continued to increase. King County reported that as of November, fentanyl was involved in 70 percent of all confirmed overdose deaths in the county in 2022 regardless of a person’s housing status.

Lawsuits filed in 2018 by Seattle and King County against big pharma stated that over 80 percent of the people living on the streets have a substance abuse issue and over half the record number of  310 deaths among the homeless in Washington’s most populous county in 2022 were attributed to Fentanyl. 

A local health official recently claimed that secondhand exposure "just wasn't happening" on transit after King County bus drivers sounded the alarm on rampant public use of fentanyl and other drugs by addicts. The same official later 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."

Despite the statements, Metro has added security and has recently been given the green light to remove people from transit for smoking fentanyl.

Overdoses are even increasing among King County’s inmates.

Earlier this year, The Washington State Legislature was gaveled into a special session in order to pass a new law to criminalize drug possession while creating new options for substance abuse treatment.

However, Seattle, the state and county’s largest city, has refused to follow suit. In June, the Seattle City Council rejected legislation that would have empowered the City Attorney to prosecute drug possession and public drug use. As a result, the council de facto decriminalized possession and public drug use.

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