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Opiate trends across Washington state

Insights from mortality, treatment, and crime lab data

Opioid use, morbidity, and mortality have increased nationally and across Washington State. To provide insights into how and where changes are occurring, we visualize several data sources on this site. We show heroin and prescription-type opioids as those abusing these drugs often use them interchangeably, and interventions, treatment, and the opioid overdose antidote naloxone, work equally well for both types of opioids. For more on opiate treatment and naloxone, go to

Crime lab data for police evidence testing indicate a 134% increase in cases positive for opioids statewide between 2002-2004 and 2014-2016, with increases in most counties. Publicly funded drug treatment admissions for opioids as the primary drug increased 257% statewide between 2002-2004 and 2013-2015, with increases in 38 of 39 counties. Drug-caused deaths involving opioids increased 33% statewide between 2002-2004 and 2013-2015, with increases in most counties. These increases exceed the growth in the state's population.

The total number of drug-caused deaths involving opioids in 2015 was 692, with 9,798 deaths total from 1999 through 2015. Controlling for population growth, the annual rate of opioid deaths has changed little from 2005 to 2015, but the share of these deaths involving heroin versus other opiates has changed. (Many deaths involve both.) Across these three data sources a similar pattern emerges with prescription-type opioids peaking between 2008 and 2010, while heroin continues to increase, especially since 2008.

Data on this page are presented as counts, while data in the source-specific pages (see menu or site map) are usually in rates, estimated as per 100,000 residents in the county or state to control for changes in population. 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.

Many of the charts on these pages 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. We will update the site as we get more data.

Statewide trends over time

Counts of treatment admissions, deaths, and crime lab cases by opiate subtype

Data sources: Division of Behavioral Health and Rehabilitation, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (treatment), Center for Health Statistics, Washington State Department of Health (deaths), and Washington State Patrol Forensic Laboratory Services Bureau (crime lab cases).
More Washington state substance use data and resources from ADAI