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INFOGRAPHIC: Washington State’s Opioid Epidemic

100-PO036 (R 10/2018)


(Rachel Friederich , DOC Communications)

Text Version

Washington State’s Opioid Epidemic

Opioid-related overdoses killed 693 Washingtonians in 2017. Statistics show that inmates releasing from prison are more likely to die from an opioid overdose than the rest of the population.

Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) is one of numerous state agencies taking steps to save lives.

Medication Assisted Treatment

Through the use of Medication Assisted Treatment, or MAT, health services professionals may administer FDA-approved medications to treat opioid use disorders.

Certain medications, such as buprenorphine, suppress and reduce cravings for opioids.

Unlike methadone treatment, which requires a highly-specialized clinic, buprenorphine products can be prescribed in a regular doctor’s office, making it an ideal treatment in prisons.

  • 50 DOC health services professionals authorized to administer
  • Available at six prisons
  • 127 people have received treatment

Narcan Kits

DOC was selected as a recipient of a Statewide Targeted Response grant in September of 2017.

Funding from the grant supplied Narcan kits to various DOC worksites. Narcan is the nasal form of naloxone, which can be used for emergency treatment of known or suspected opioid overdoses.

  • 12,000 kits distributed
  • Four lives saved since June 2018

More Referrals

The Statewide Targeted Response grant paid for additional chemical dependency program staff to conduct risk screening assessments for people under DOC supervision.

Health services and custody staff across the agency have formed a work group to streamline the process of identifying people who have opioid use disorders.

DOC staff perform outreach with 11 opioid treatment hubs statewide, to ensure people leaving prison can continue treatment upon return to their communities.

  • 2,533 screenings
  • 42 percent of all outreach to community treatment hubs resulted in referrals

Fact: Nationally, opioid overdoses accounted for 2/3 of the 72,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2017.

Line graph depicts the number of opioid related overdose deaths each year in Washington state starting in 1999 and ending with 2017 data.

1,615: Number of opioid overdose hospitalizations in 2017

Facts About Opioids

Opioids: What are they?

  • Opioids are a class of drugs naturally found in the opium poppy plant. Some prescription opioids are made from the plant directly, while others are made synthetically in labs.
  • They’re used to make prescription pain killers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone (Vicodin), codeine, morphine and many others. Opioids also include fentanyl and the illegal drug, heroin.
  • Opioids can make people feel relaxed and “high” and are highly addictive, which is why they are often abused.

14,389: Number of opioid substance abuse treatment admissions in the state of Washington during 2015.

324,000: Number of people in the United States older than 12 who misused pain killers between 2015 and 2016.

40X: Studies show inmates releasing from prison are 40 times more likely to die from an opioid overdose than other populations.


  1. Washington Department of Health, Washington State Drug Overdose Quarterly Report
  2. Washington State Department of Corrections’ Health Services Unit
  3. Centers for Disease Control, Provisional Drug Overdose Death Counts
  4. Washington Hospital Discharge Data, Comprehensive Hospitalization Abstract Reporting System (CHARS) 2017
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse, Prescription Opioid Facts
  6. National Survey on Drug Use and HealthAdobe PDF document title
  7. American Journal of Public Health, Opioid Overdose Mortality Among Former North Carolina Inmates: 2000-2015