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

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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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