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Washington Opioid Summary

Revised March 2019

Opioid-Related Overdose Deaths

In 2017, there were 742 overdose deaths involving opioids in Washington—a rate of 9.6 deaths per 100,000 persons, which is over half the national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000 persons. The greatest increase in opioid deaths occurred among cases involving heroin, with a rise from 60 deaths in 2010 to 306 deaths in 2017 (Figure 1). Synthetic opioid (mainly fentanyl) involved deaths also increased from 59 deaths in 2013 to 143 deaths in 2017.  There were 343 deaths involving prescription opioids in 2017, a decrease from 474 in 2010.

See text Figure 1. Number of overdose deaths involving opioids in Washington, by opioid category. Source: CDC WONDER.

Opioid Pain Reliever Prescriptions

In 2017, Washington providers wrote 57.2 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons (Figure 2) compared to the average U.S. rate of 58.7 prescriptions. This represents a 25 percent decline in Washington opioid prescriptions over the past five years (CDC). 

The rate of overdose deaths involving opioid prescriptions has followed this trend with an overall decline from  8.0 overdose deaths per 100,000 persons in 2008 to 4.3 overdose deaths per 100,00 persons in 2017 (Figure 2).

See textFigure 2. Washington rate of overdose deaths involving prescriptions opioids and the opioid prescribing rate. Source: CDC and CDC WONDER.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)

NAS or neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) may occur when a pregnant woman uses drugs such as opioids during pregnancy. A recent national study showed a fivefold increase in the incidence of NAS/NOWS between 2004 and 2014, from 1.5 cases per 1,000 hospital births to 8.0 cases per 1,000 hospital births. That is one baby born with NAS/NOWS every 15 minutes in the United States. During the same period, hospital costs for NAS/NOWS births increased from $91 million to $563 million, after adjusting for inflation (Figure 3). The most recent data from Washington state on babies born with NAS/NOWS is from 2013 when there were 7.9 cases of NAS/NOW per 1,000 hospital births—a more than sixfold increase from 2000 (CDC).

See textFigure 3. NAS/NOW Incidence Rate and Hospital Costs for Treatment in the United States. Source: T.N.A. Winkelman, et al., 2018.

HIV Prevalence and HIV Diagnoses Attributed to Injection Drug Use (IDU)

See textFigure 4. Washington: Estimated percent of male vs. female with new HIV diagnoses, by transmission category, 2016. Source: CDC and www.AIDSVU.org.
  • U.S. Incidence: In 2016, 9 percent (3,480) of the 39,589 new diagnoses of HIV in the United States were attributed to IDU. Among new cases, 6.3 percent (2,530) were transmitted via IDU or male-to-male contact and IDU among men, and 2.3 percent (950) were transmitted via IDU among women (CDC).
  • U.S. Prevalence: In 2016, 991,447 Americans were living with a diagnosed HIV infection—a rate of 306.6 cases per 100,000 persons. Among males, 19.9 percent (150,4661) contracted HIV from IDU or male-to-male contact and IDU while 21 percent (50,154) of females were living with HIV attributed to IDU (CDC).
  • State Incidence: Of the new HIV cases in 2016, 432 occurred in Washington. Among males, 15.1 percent of new HIV cases were attributed to IDU or male-to-male contact and IDU. Among females, 19.1 percent of new HIV cases were attributed to IDU (Figure 4) (AIDSVu).
  • State Prevalence: In 2015, an estimated 12,484 persons were living with a diagnosed HIV infection in Washington—a rate of 208 cases per 100,000 persons. Of those, 16.6 percent of males cases were attributed to IDU or male-to-male contact and IDU. Among females, 22.4 percent were living with HIV attributed to IDU (AIDSVu).  

Hepatitis C (HCV) Prevalence and HCV Diagnoses Attributed to Injection Drug Use1

  • U.S. Incidence: In 2016, there were an estimated 41,200 new cases of acute HCV2 (CDC). Among cases reports that contain information about IDU, 68.6 percent indicated use of injection drugs (CDC).
  • U.S. Prevalence: An estimated 2.4 million Americans are living with HCV based on 2013-2016 annual averages (CDC).
  • State Incidence: There were approximately 62 new cases of acute HCV (0.9 per 100,000 persons) reported in Washington in 2016 (CDC).
  • State Prevalence: In Washington, there are an estimated 54,600 persons living with Hepatitis C (2013-2016 annual average), a rate of 1,000 cases per 100,000 persons (HepVu).

The National Institute of Health Funds Center of Excellence in Pain Education

This is the logo for the NIH Pain Consortium: Centers of Excellence in Pain Education.

Washington is home to one of the eleven Centers of Excellence in Pain Education (CoEPEs): the John D. Loeser Center of Excellence in Pain Education at the University of Washington. The CoEPEs act as hubs for the development, evaluation, and distribution of pain management curriculum resources for medical, dental, nursing, pharmacy and other schools to improve how health care professionals are taught about pain and its treatment.

Notes

  1. Not all states collect or report data on the incidence or prevalence of Hepatitis C or on how Hepatitis C is transmitted. When available, the data will be included.
  2. Actual acute cases estimated to be 13.9 times the number of reported cases in any year.

This page was last updated March 2019

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