Overdose deaths in Washington top 2,000 in 2021

OLYMPIA, Wash. – New data show deaths from drug overdoses continue to rise in Washington. 

Data from the Washington State Department of Health show drug-related overdose deaths surpassed 2,000 in 2021, marking a 66 percent increase compared to 2019. 

The DOH says these deaths are increasing across all groups, though a majority of those dying tend to be male and 45 years or younger. The increase in overdose deaths is fastest among Black, Latinx and Native American/Alaska Native people. 

More than half of these deaths were caused by fentanyl. Fentanyl overdose deaths have increased about 10-fold since 2016. 

“Overdose deaths are a public health emergency, and fentanyl is a major driver,” said Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, MD, MPH, Chief Science Officer. “What looks like a prescription oxycodone pill could be a counterfeit with more than enough fentanyl to kill. People who use drugs should assume that any drugs bought on the street, online, or from a friend has fentanyl.”

The DOH encourages people to carry at least two doses of naloxone to help prevent deaths from opioid overdose. Naloxone is available at many community organizations and pharmacies across Washington. Here is how to find naloxone near you. 

READ: ‘Flooding our streets’: New initiative to combat rising fentanyl use starts in the Inland Northwest

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