Heroin overdoses were responsible for 132 King County deaths in 2015, according to data compiled by the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Institute.
The report, released July 19, gave further evidence of a growing heroin epidemic across the nation. Treatment admissions, such as to detox and long-term treatment facilities, saw a jump of nearly 20 percent from 2014.
Admissions have jumped nearly 170 percent since 2011, with the largest age category between 18 and 29 years old.
For the first time, the report said, more heroin-related patients were submitted to detox or long-term care than for alcohol. Heroin was involved in 348 police cases county-wide in 2015, the most-common drug in police evidence.
But despite the increase in heroin use and visibility, the number of overdose deaths dropped from 156 deaths in 2014.
In 2015, legislation took effect allowing first-responders easier access to an anti-heroin drug, naloxone. Referred to as “overdose prevention” in the report, the personal use of take-home-naloxone reportedly reversed over 2,000 heroin overdoses in 2015.
The report highlighted a handful of other drugs. Cocaine levels have dropped in the last five years, with the lowest-number of cocaine-related police cases since 2002.
Methamphetamine use appears to be rising, though levels aren’t as high as in 2005. Deaths involving meth jumped to 86 in 2015, nearly half of which also involved the use of heroin. Meth-related deaths averaged around 20-per-year from 2003-2011.
Use of synthetic opioids, such as prescription painkillers, has declined slightly. Synthetic opioids were the only drug class in which a majority of treatment admissions were female, at 61 percent. Admissions to treatment facilities declined in 2015.