More people of all races, ages and income levels are finding themselves addicted to dangerous drugs like heroin but some help is on the way as the White House announced Wednesday $53 Million in grants to states to help fight opioid abuse.
Since 2000, opioid related overdoses have increased nationwide by 200 percent. Spokane County has one of the worst opiate death rates in the state, killing more than 15 people out of 100,000 every year.
In 2015, illicit drugs were a causal or contributing factor in 66 accidental deaths in Spokane, more than double from the year before. Across the country, heroin use is increasing, and so are accidental overdoses, but it's not just illicit drug use that's a problem.
“The data we're seeing is that the use of prescription drugs is going up, it is something that's available in the community.,” Linda Thompson with the Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council said.
Prescribed painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet are often easier to access but just as deadly.
“About 10 percent of our youth have reported in the last 30 days, using someone else's prescription drugs,” Thompson added. “There are resources and we just need to be able to utilize those and make sure that there is no stigma to seeking treatment and recovery.”
The federal funding will be channeled toward creating awareness and expanding access to treatment. Right now only 10 percent of people who need treatment for opioid addiction receive it. While the funds will do their job to help the problem Thompson says we as a community have an important role to play, as well.
“Treatment works and we need to support those in treatment and recovery,” Thompson said.
Its important to point out that you don't have to have an addiction to be potentially affected. An article in Wednesday's Washington Post noted that white, middle-aged women are prescribed opiate painkillers more than any demographic and, when combined with other prescription medications or even alcohol, the results could be dangerous.