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caption: Naloxone syringe is used to combat opioid overdose.
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Naloxone syringe is used to combat opioid overdose.
Credit: Flickr Photo/VCU CNS (CC BY NC 2.0)/

Heroin overdose death rates rising faster in Snohomish than King, Pierce counties

Heroin addiction has no boundaries. Deaths from overdoses have gone up across Washington state, but in Snohomish County, the rates have gone up more than in King or Pierce Counties.

Over the last decade 900 people in Snohomish County have died from opioid overdose. Initially, there were more overdose deaths from pain medicine. Then in 2014, deaths from heroin use surpassed that.

Dr. Gary Goldbaum, Snohomish Health District’s public health officer, said in recent years heroin became less expensive.

“The new drug of choice became heroin,” he said. “And what we’re witnessing these days is something very different from decades ago. The newly addicted population is much younger. They’re under the age of 30 predominantly.”

Snohomish County has taken some steps to combat the situation. For example, first responders now carry naloxone, a drug that reverses overdoses. And the county is also looking at more comprehensive solutions, including immediate treatment, overdose prevention and public outreach to prevent people from becoming addicted.

But long-term solutions will require both financial and political investments from the community, said Goldbaum.

“This is really going to take some serious, careful effort by many agencies; by folks within the community,” he said. “This is going to take years for us to fully address.”

The Snohomish Health District is planning a series of community meetings in late August for residents who want to learn more.