Seattle Fire stops overdose in Cal Anderson from joining awful King County heroin trend

Monday night last week in the late evening sun in Cal Anderson, Seattle Fire medics arrived near the playground where bystanders were trying to save the life of a 24-year-old female suffering a drug overdose. Unconscious and not breathing, the woman was brought out of the OD with an injection of naloxone.

Far from a miracle, the overdose fortunately won’t be added to the disturbing trend of spiking heroin deaths:

Death from opiates in King County in 2014:

  • Heroin-involved deaths totaled 156, a 58% increase from 99 in 2013.

  • Heroin deaths involving no other drugs are most common among young adults.

  • Prescription-type opiate-involved deaths have decreased from a peak of 164 in 2009 to 98 in 2014.

In the study from the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, heroin deaths were up across all age groups. As in past UW studies, researches say a mix of heroin with other drugs is often part of the overdose — but 2014 totals reveal a new recipe. “Historically, many heroin deaths have involved cocaine, and this continues to be the case,” a report on the study notes. “However, over the past three years, many more deaths have involved heroin and methamphetamine.”

Heroin’s high, however, is at the core of the region’s addiction problems. “The number of treatment admissions with heroin as the primary drug doubled from 2010-2014 and are higher than any drug since at least 1999,” according to the study.

While it doesn’t address addiction, access to naloxone improved earlier this year with the passage of a new law allowing pharmacists to prescribe naloxone to first responders, homeless shelters, and family members and permit them to administer it across the state. The antidote can’t, of course, save everybody. In April, one man died in an overdose in Cal Anderson while two others were taken to the hospital.

Heroin is also taking its toll on the homeless and mentally ill population in the county:

  • Among those admitted to drug treatment, approximately one-third were determined to have serious mental health issues.

  • Among people who died of drug-overdose, approximately 20% had an antidepressant detected in their body — indicating that the decedent had a serious mental health condition and that they had seen a healthcare provider in the recent past.

  • Mental health and substance abuse commonly overlap and exacerbate one another.

You can read more about the 2014 edition of the study here.

 

One man dies, two other victims to hospital in drug overdose at Cal Anderson

One man died and another was in critical condition Sunday night after Seattle Fire and SPD responded to three people suffering heroin overdoses on the sports field at Cal Anderson Park. UPDATE: SFD says the female may have been suffering a medical issue “not related to the overdose.” 

SFD’s Aid 25 unit was called to the Bobby Morris Playfield around 5:20 PM to a report of a female suffering an apparent seizure. The crew arrived to find the female and two other males suffering a drug overdose. Additional SFD units arrived and began CPR on the field in the middle of a busy night in Pike/Pine and as a baseball game continued on the diamond nearby.

Seattle Fire reported that one male died at the scene following 20 minutes of CPR while another male was transported to Harborview in critical condition. The female victim was also transported to the hospital in reported stable condition.

According to Seattle Police, the three victims suffered heroin overdoses. The incident is being investigated. UPDATE:  “Three individuals who know me contacted me and said that from their understanding ‘there was some bad meth going around,'” an officer’s report on the incident reads. The officer writes that SFD responders at the scene said the three victims were “under the influence of heroin” but police found no drug paraphernalia. “It is unknown if subjects had mixed the two drugs,” the officer writes. According to the report, SPD was able to identify the dead man from a medical bracelet he was wearing.

Last week, SPD announced the early results of its “9 1/2 Block” effort to combat an “open air drug market” in downtown Seattle. East Precinct and city officials have said that the area around Cal Anderson has also been identified as another of Seattle’s “drug market” areas and that patrol and investigative efforts would also be brought to bear around the popular Capitol Hill open space.

 

Access to naloxone at center of state summit on heroin overdose crisis

1opiod_infographic_usechartIn Olympia, a bill that would expand access to naloxone, a narcotic drug that can reverse the deadly effects of a heroin overdose, is slated for a hearing later this week with the state’s House Committee on Health Care & Wellness. The drug was a big part of the conversation Tuesday at a summit from the Department of Justice and the University of Washington on the state’s heroin overdose epidemic.

The daylong overdose education summit brought together hundreds of people from across the state from a range of disciplines, including law enforcement officials, clinicians, public officials, and researchers.

It’s hard to pin down just how many heroin overdoses happen on Capitol Hill. In King County, opiate related deaths went up 21% from 2011-2013.

But one case in particular was at the center of Tuesday’s summit.

Garfield High softball pitcher Marah Williams was nicknamed “The Rocket” when she played for the team in 2009. Her wicked fastball landed her on elite teams and won her trophies. Continue reading

Drug deaths reach 15-year high in King County as Capitol Hill remains overdose hub

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In 2013 King County saw an average of nearly one drug related death per day, the highest count in 15-years, according to the latest edition of an annual University of Washington study released Wednesday.

The 312 drug related deaths in 2013 represent a 30% increase from 2009. Capitol Hill retains the unfortunate distinction of being an area where all types of drug overdoses occur, said the report’s author Dr. Caleb Banta-Green.

“Capitol Hill is kind of the home to everything. You see methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and prescription opiates. You have a lot of mortality there,” Banta-Green said. “The good thing is you have good treatment access.” Continue reading

Recent Capitol Hill heroin ODs part of larger trend

Cal Anderson's bathroom is such a popular place to shoot up that the parks department uses lighting that makes it more difficult for a user to find a vein (Image: CHS)

Cal Anderson’s bathroom has been such a popular place to shoot up that the parks department experimented with lighting inside that makes it more difficult for a user to find a vein (Image: CHS)

Thursday night at 5:55 PM, a 911 caller reported that one of a group of three men seen using needles to inject drugs in an alley in the 500 block of E Republican was overdosing. It’s been a busy summer of similar anecdotes around Capitol Hill. Seattle Fire Department medics responded to a heroin overdose call earlier in July when two men in their early twenties had both overdosed while sitting in a van at 11th and Pine. A week before just a few blocks away medics responded to two other heroin overdoses within 24 hours of each other.

The exact number of heroin overdoses so far this summer is hard to pin down, but a spokesperson at the Seattle Fire Department said medic units have seen a rise in heroin related calls in Capitol Hill. And it is, of course, not only happening in alleys or the Cal Anderson bathroom. Medics have also been called to ODs in apartment buildings and single family residences on the Hill. The uptick in overdoses in the neighborhood follows a trend of increased ODs of people under 30 in Seattle and around the rest of the state. Experts say more younger users and stronger drugs are partially to blame.

Shilo Murphy, who runs the People’s Harm Reduction Alliance needle exchange in the University District, said there is a “perfect storm” of factors playing into the steady rise in overdoses.

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City Attorney wants pot clubs to address renter’s paradox


Lucky Rabbit, originally uploaded by jillbertini.

Call it the renter’s paradox. When voter-approved marijuana legalization goes into full effect next year, renters will be able to buy weed, but may not technically have a place to smoke it.

The current law prohibits open use of marijuana “in view of the general public,” but allows it inside privately owned homes. That protection doesn’t extend to rental housing – of which, Capitol Hill has plenty. Many landlords are expected to ban marijuana in and around their buildings, just like cigarettes.

It’s not a new issue, but Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes is now asking the state to address it. In a letter dated June 10, Holmes asked the state’s Liquor Control Board to consider allowing for smoking clubs to curb public marijuana use. “Renters and tourists should not be forced to use marijuana in parks or on sidewalks,” he wrote.

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