According to the King County overdose deaths data dashboard, Washington’s most populous county may also have set a record for the state with 1,010 overdose deaths in 2023. 1,001 people died from overdoses in all of 2022.
The majority of the deaths were attributed to fentanyl. Overdose deaths from fentanyl have spiked over the past few years. In 2019 there were 109 deadly fentanyl overdoses, 168 in 2020, and 385 in 2021, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.
According to KOMO News, approximately four people die from a drug overdose every day in the Seattle area.
Across the county, from January to the end of July, EMS crews responded to 4,868 overdoses, significantly more than the 2,947 during the same time period last year.
The Washington State Legislature was gaveled into a special session earlier this year to pass a new law criminalizing drug possession while creating new options for substance abuse treatment.
However, Seattle, the state and county’s largest city, refused to follow suit and in June, the Seattle City Council rejected legislation that would have empowered the city attorney to prosecute drug possession and public drug use and as a result, the council de facto decriminalized possession and public drug use.
A more recent attempt by the council finally passed a watered-down version of the legislation.
Earlier this year, The Seattle Times reported, “Washington now has the fastest-rising drug deaths in the nation,” and in January, it was revealed that due to the record number of fentanyl overdose deaths in the county, the medical examiner was running out of places to store dead bodies.
Overdoses have gotten so bad that the Washington State Health Care Authority launched a campaign, encouraging teens to carry Naloxone, a drug to counteract an overdose.
The campaign is unlikely to help the situation as Seattle and King County Public Health distributed over 10,000 naloxone kits, and roughly 100,000 fentanyl test strips in 2022, yet the numbers of overdoses and overdose deaths increased.
As Seattle and King County have spent billions of dollars on services and what they refer to as “harm reduction” for addicts, the problem has only continued to increase.
A recent study revealed that on the county’s buses and trains, meth was found in 100 percent of air samples analyzed and 98 percent of surface samples while fentanyl was found in a quarter of the air samples and almost half of the surface samples. ◆