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Opiate death trends across King County

On this page, we focus on opiate-involved death data from the King County Medical Examiner through 2015, which have geocoded address information for the place of death (not necessarily the same as the place of residence). This allows us to create the animated maps below. First, we present time trends for context. See our page on King County drug deaths for more information.

Trends in opiate-related deaths, King County

In the first graph, we show death rates in the county attributed to main categories of opiates and some specific types of opiates, with the overall drug-caused death rate for comparison. For example, at the height of the prescription-type opiate epidemic in 2009, deaths involving oxycodone were slightly more common than deaths involving heroin. In the second graph, we show the share of deaths among those aged under 30 involving (probable) heroin, other opiates, and, for comparison, cocaine, methamphetamine, and any drug. Since 2006, young people experienced a disproportionate share of heroin-related deaths, relative to their share of overall drug-caused deaths.

Data sources: King County Medical Examiner (deaths), state Office of Financial Management (population)
Data source: King County Medical Examiner

Opiate deaths by year

Data source: King County Medical Examiner

Heroin deaths by year

Data source: King County Medical Examiner

Prescription-type and other opiate deaths by year

Data source: King County Medical Examiner

Comparing the spread of prescription-type and other opiate deaths to the spread of heroin deaths

As the videos above showed, deaths attributed to opiates in general and particularly to heroin have expanded out of the urban core. Below, we contrast deaths in 2001 and 2002 (left) with those in 2014 and 2015 (right), for both heroin (bottom) and other opiates (top). To facilitate side-by-side comparison, we zoom out (compared to the videos above) and cut off the eastern end of the county and part of Vashon Island where there were no deaths in these time periods.

Download PDF. Data source: King County Medical Examiner.
More King County substance use data and resources from ADAI