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Opioid misuse prevention

Addressing opioid misuse is a state priority.

  • Prescription drugs (opioid pain killers, stimulants, and depressants) are medications legitimately prescribed by doctors to treat a variety of health problems. Some people assume that since they’re legal when prescribed by a doctor, they must be safer than illegal drugs. However, when misused, they can be just as dangerous, and even deadly. In fact, in recent years, the misuse of prescription painkillers has resulted in more deaths than cocaine and heroin combined (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
  • In 2016, about 700 individuals died from an opioid-related overdose in WA State (Washington Department of Health).

Painkiller use by youth in Washington State:

  • Approximately 3,347 students in 10th grade report using painkillers (like Vicodin, OxyContin or Percocet) to get high in the last 30 days (Healthy Youth Survey, 2016).
  • Twice as many, approximately 6,695 students in 10th grade, report misusing someone else's prescription in the last 30 days (Healthy Youth Survey, 2016).

Prevention strategies are being implemented throughout the state at local, county, and state levels, across the Continuum of Care that influence multiple domains and risk and protective factors. Here is a list of some state-wide initiatives focused specifically on prescription drug and opioid misuse:

Washington State Interagency Opioid Working Plan is the state’s comprehensive strategy to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with opioids.

The Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR) was awarded the State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grant, which funds the following projects:

  • Community Prevention and Wellness Initiative (CPWI) expansion to five high-need communities.
  • Community enhancement grants – provide funding opportunity to community based organizations statewide to implement prevention services.
  • In 2018, DBHR and the Washington State Labor and Industries (L&I) hosted two training events for Washington State dentists to focus on opioid prescribing practices and guidelines.
  • UW TelePain - Supported University of Washington’s weekly TelePain program, an audio and videoconference-based knowledge network of interprofessional specialists with expertise in the management of challenging chronic pain problems. The goal is to increase the knowledge and skills of community practice providers who treat patients with chronic pain.
  • DBHR supported two statewide media campaigns with opioid misuse prevention messaging: Starts With One and Washington Tribal Opioid Solutions.
  • Safe Storage Curricula and Training - Innovative pilot project to integrate prescription drug misuse prevention education with existing state services that parents and caregivers receive.
  • Prevention Workforce Enhancements - support annual Washington State Prevention Summit and Spring Youth Forum to increase availability of education opportunities for youth and prevention professionals on opioid misuse.
  • Analysis of Evidence-Based Practices – Through a contract with Washington State University, conduct analysis of current selection of evidence-based practice with outcomes in the most salient factors related to youth misuse of prescriptions drugs to include opiates to be used in implementation of prevention services.
  • Increasing access to evidence-based interventions for families affected by opioid use disorder (OUD) through the Northwest Center for Family Support, which provides free EBI training, consultation, and technical assistance to caregivers (parents/guardians) in OUD recovery who have children 10-14. For more information, please click here

Alicia Hughes
Community-based Organizations and Grant Development Unit Supervisor