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Methamphetamine trends across Washington state

Insights from mortality, treatment, and crime lab data

We present information on methamphetamine deaths, state crime lab cases, and publicly funded treatment episodes for Washington state and for counties. Data are from state agencies originally, but the analysis is our own. For more information on data, see details at the end of the page.

Many of the charts on this page are interactive. You can move your pointer over or click on a data point to see the count or rate, or on an item in the legend to highlight that data series. This does not apply to downloaded charts.

Drug-caused deaths

Deaths involving methamphetamine versus cocaine and all opiates

Data sources: Washington State Department of Health (deaths), state Office of Financial Management (population)

Methamphetamine deaths by year detailed

In the table below, we examine demographic descriptors of drug poisonings involving methamphetamine, and the subset of those deaths that also involved opiates. The ethnic group descriptors White, Black, Native American, and Asian/Pacific Islander are mutually exclusive categories designated by the state using National Center for Health Statistics categories to designate the primary race of the deceased. Hispanic is from a different variable in the death certificate files and is not mutually exclusive with the other races listed.

Year Deaths Median age Female White Black Native American Asian/Pacific Islander Hispanic Number with opiates Percent with opiates Rate per 100,000 state residents
2003 89 40 25.8% 91.0% 2.2% 4.5% 2.2% 0.0% 32 36.0% 1.45
2004 98 39.5 28.6% 86.7% 3.1% 5.1% 2.0% 3.1% 41 41.8% 1.58
2005 102 43 21.6% 88.2% 2.9% 5.9% 1.0% 2.9% 44 43.1% 1.62
2006 93 44 25.8% 84.9% 3.2% 6.5% 2.2% 3.2% 45 48.4% 1.45
2007 98 43 33.7% 87.8% 3.1% 4.1% 3.1% 3.1% 37 37.8% 1.50
2008 83 44 34.9% 88.0% 1.2% 3.6% 6.0% 3.6% 29 34.9% 1.26
2009 119 46 27.7% 89.9% 1.7% 5.0% 2.5% 1.7% 58 48.7% 1.78
2010 120 45.5 34.2% 89.2% 2.5% 5.0% 0.8% 5.0% 40 33.3% 1.78
2011 153 44 31.4% 85.0% 2.6% 7.2% 0.7% 5.9% 63 41.2% 2.26
2012 172 45 26.2% 86.6% 3.5% 4.7% 1.2% 6.4% 63 36.6% 2.52
2013 237 45 29.5% 82.3% 6.3% 5.1% 3.0% 5.1% 96 40.5% 3.44
2014 256 45 31.3% 84.4% 4.3% 7.0% 3.1% 3.5% 125 48.8% 3.67
2015 344 44 26.5% 82.0% 7.8% 5.5% 1.2% 9.0% 146 42.4% 4.87

In the figure below, we again show death rates, but now break out deaths involving methamphetamine (M), cocaine (C), and opioids (O) alone or in combination. We ignore the presence of any other drug, most prominently alcohol or benzodiazepines. Thus, methamphetamine deaths are broken out as methamphetamine only (no C or O), methamphetamine and cocaine (no O), methamphetamine and cocaine (no C), and all three (methamphetamine, opioids, and cocaine), each with or without other substances. For each type of drug poisoning, we present the results in a stacked chart to show how they contribute to the overall rate of drug poisonings.

Alcohol, barbiturates, or benzopiazepines, which all act as central nervous system depressants, are commonly involved with other drugs in drug poisonings, particularly with opioids. If you click on the 'Methamphetamine deaths detail' button, the chart switches to subtypes of drug poisonings involving methamphetamine. Those not involving cocaine or opioids are further divided into those that did and those that did not also involve alcohol, barbiturates, and/or benzodiazepines (ABB).

Data sources: Washington State Department of Health (deaths), state Office of Financial Management (population)

Drug deaths involving methamphetamine by county, 2014-2015 versus 2003-2004

Note below that the top end of the scale is 13.25 (or more) deaths per 100,000 residents. Ferry County's rate in 2003-2004 was over twice this ceiling. Note as well that Ferry County had less than 7400 residents, meaning it is an unstable outlier in terms of death rates.

Data sources: Washington State Department of Health (deaths), state Office of Financial Management (population)

Crime lab cases, methamphetamine versus other major drugs

Data source: Forensic Laboratory Services Bureau, Washington State Patrol
Data source: Forensic Laboratory Services Bureau, Washington State Patrol

Crime lab cases positive for methamphetamine by county, 2014-2016 versus 2002-2004

Data sources: Forensic Laboratory Services Bureau, Washington State Patrol (cases), state Office of Financial Management (population)

Publicly funded treatment admissions, methamphetamine as primary drug versus all admissions

Data sources: Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (admissions), state Office of Financial Management (population)
Data source: Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services

Data source: Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services

Publicly funded treatment admissions for which methamphetamine was reported as the primary drug, by county, 2014-2015 (latest available) versus 2003-2004

Data sources: Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (admissions), state Office of Financial Management (population)

First-time admissions for methamphetamine by county, 2014-2015 versus 2003-2004

Data sources: Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (admissions), state Office of Financial Management (population)

Data notes

Drug-caused deaths are based on individual-level death certificate data from the state Department of Health. We restrict analysis to drug poisonings (based on ICD-10 codes X40-X44, X60-X64, X85, and Y10-Y14 as the underlying cause of death) involving Washington residents who died in Washington. This common definition excludes cases where alcohol poisoning or alcoholism, carbon monoxide poisoning, etc., was coded as the underlying cause of death. Identification of methamphetamine deaths is based on searching written information saved in the electronic death certificates for relevant words containing "meth" and "thamphet". This written information ("literals") is available back to 2003. Deaths involving any opiate are from the state's review and confirmation of potential opiate cases, combined with whether death coding indicated opiates (ICD codes T40.0-T40.4 or T40.6; T40.5 signifies cocaine). As of this writing, death data are available through 2015.

Crime lab cases reflect drugs seized by state and local law enforcement and by federal and other multi-county agencies throughout the state and sent to a branch of the state crime lab for testing as potential evidence. A given case may have one or several positive drug results. Crime lab data are available for 2002 through 2016.

Treatment data from the Washington State Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery reflect publicly funded treatment via outpatient, intensive inpatient, recovery house, long-term residential, and opiate use disorder treatment medication modalities. Department of Corrections treatment excluded. "First admission" means no prior publicly funded treatment for any drug, regardless of modality, is found for the individual. Records go back to approximately 2000 and stop after 2015.

Data on this page are presented as counts or rates, estimated as per 100,000 residents in the county or state. Note that Washington has several counties with small populations, which may make rates unstable: A small change in the numerator (an increase in the count of 3 or a decrease of 2, for example, in a population of 5000) could result in a relatively large change in the rate. Garfield, Wahkiakum, Columbia, and Ferry Counties each have well under 10,000 residents.

More Washington state substance use data and resources from ADAI