Seattle sees spike in fentanyl overdose deaths

Apr 24 2020, 10:33 am

As a major global health crisis continues, Seattle and King County Public Health said it also experienced an increase in overdose deaths over the past two weeks.

Since April 8, the King County Medical Examiner’s Office reported over 25 fatal overdoses with 14 of these deaths linked to fentanyl. Of the 14, toxicology results showed that seven had cocaine present, which raises concern that people using substances may be taking pills and cocaine together.

“Combining drugs and/or alcohol has the potential to multiply the effects of the drugs and can increase the risk of overdose,” said a press release from the city.

The overall number of fentanyl-related deaths in Seattle has increased this year, as there were 38 fentanyl-related overdoses over January to March compared to 24 in the same time period last year.

According to the city, the majority of fentanyl-involved deaths continue to be related to blue pills marked with “M30,” often referred to as “oxys” or “percs.”

Those purchasing these pills may not know that they contain fentanyl or fillers and that the variation in the amount of fentanyl within the same batch or even within a single pill can vary greatly — leading to greater risk for overdose.

Recent fentanyl-involved overdoses have not only been coming from the city’s homeless population. Since last January, approximately 165 of 166 fentanyl overdose deaths involved users who were housed.

“Overdose knows no boundaries. It impacts people from all walks of life. Fentanyl-involved overdoses touch communities across a broad swath of the county,” said Public Health in a press release.

“We should all take particular care during this time of greater isolation. Places people used to go for in-person support may now be virtual and not provide the same level of connection for people.”

Those seeking treatment for opiate use disorder can connect with a provider via phone or online from their own home by calling the Washington Recovery Hotline at 1-866-789-1511.

Public Health is also encouraging users to have naloxone ready and to not take pills that aren’t prescribed to you. If you suspect an overdose, call 911 right away. The Good Samaritan Law will protect you and the person overdosing from drug possession charges.