Addiction – Kent’s Substance Abuse Issues Are A Problem For King County
Addiction is a problem isolated to no region, and the citizens of Kent – a small city in King County, Washington – are not exempt to its dangers. Kent’s community has its own struggles with drug addictions, and while the drug abuse trends currently facing Kent are unique to its people, the underlying issue is the same: dependency. Kent is located near the western shore of King County, between the Metroplex of Seattle and Tacoma. Being situated between two big cities means that Kent is a frequent stop for drug pushers commuting from city to city – this results in an influx of drugs, most notably for Kent, (in recent years) heroin. Substance abuse is not glaringly obvious to a visitor of Kent, unlike in some cities – for example, a drive past the infamous, drug-ridden East Hastings block of Vancouver, B.C. will convince anyone that the beautiful city is a drug slum. A scarce drug problem is still a drug problem, though, and Kent’s substance abuse issues are on the rise.
Kent’s Most Common Addiction – Alcohol
Alcohol, much like in other worldwide communities, is the most popular drug of abuse in Kent. Its legal status and ready availability make alcohol enticing to the average Joe and, thus, is the culprit for most substance abuse problems. Alcohol is legal and sold by the government, so many who might not have considered themselves susceptible to addiction have become alcoholics, drawn to alcohol’s social acceptance.
- Despite alcohol’s prevalence, binge drinking in Kent is uncommon compared to the rest of King County. One in five adults (20%) in King County partake in binge drinking regularly, but only 13% of Kent’s population binge drinks regularly.
- For every 100,000 residents, there are 8.7 deaths caused by alcohol in Kent yearly.
Excessive Marijuana Use in Kent and King County
Marijuana addiction is the second most popular substance abuse issue in Kent. More than one in ten people in Kent smoke marijuana on a regular basis – 11%, according to data from 2014. While frequent marijuana use isn’t generally a serious problem when compared to addictions to harder drugs – crystal meth and heroin addictions are far more dangerous – it is well-known that marijuana has a high potential for psychological addiction. Marijuana’s popularity in Kent is partially due to its legal status – both the plant and the extracts of marijuana have been legal in Washington state since 2012. Legal marijuana dispensaries in Kent are abounding, and the community’s stance on the use of marijuana is lax compared to stricter states.
- While marijuana use in Kent is generally accepted, the town falls beneath the state’s median statistic for regular pot smokers. 18% of Washington’s inhabitants smoke weed regularly, whereas 11% of Kent’s population smokes weed.
- Marijuana is more popular among the younger crowd in King County, with 17% of high school students smoking marijuana regularly.
- There is widespread treatment available for marijuana addiction in King County, and statistics show that almost half of the applicants are the youth of high school age.
The Joint, one of Kent’s marijuana dispensaries, is proud to provide the community with reliable access to marijuana. The Joint offers different strains of marijuana, different extracts, and various types of smoking or edible material made from marijuana’s primary active ingredient – T.H.C. (tetrahydrocannabinol.) Despite this, their website shows that Kent’s residents should be aware of the dangers associated with any drug: a disclaimer makes note that marijuana is intoxicating and can be habit-forming
Kent’s Problems With Illegal Drugs Are A Threat to King County
While illicit drug use is declining in King County as a whole, Kent is finding drug abuse to be more problematic. The use of cocaine and methamphetamine in Kent have declined in the last few years, however, heroin use, abuse, and trafficking in Kent has reached an all-time high.
- King County saw an 80.7% increase in admissions to rehab facilities for opiate abuse between 2002 and 2013.
- The rise of heroin and opiate addictions has resulted in the creation of the Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force, which shows that King County’s drug abuse issue is being addressed, and the community is willing to take steps to prevent it.
- Deaths in Kent caused by illegal drugs account for 10.5 per 100,000 residents – compared to 8.7 deaths attributed to alcohol alone.
- “Party drugs,” such as MDMA, and psychedelics, have always been scarce in King County and continue to remain that way – as in many cities, the “party drug” scene is esoteric and appeals only to a certain demographic.
Non-intoxicants Still Present The Risk Of Addiction
Addictions in Kent, or anywhere, aren’t just caused by hard drugs – and there are some addictions that aren’t drug-related at all. Cigarette smokers in Kent are quite common. While cigarettes can provide a short-lived rush, they aren’t considered intoxicants and are generally left out of substance abuse statistics.
- Folks on the western front of Kent love their smokes, with one in four of them smoking regularly. The rest of Kent has about one in ten people smoking frequently. This shows that western Kent residents, with 25% of the adults smoking, are some of Washington state’s most frequent smokers – King County averages 18% of the population, and the state averages 16%.
- Smoking appeals to youth entering early adulthood in King County, with 11% of twelfth graders smoking regularly. There has been a marginal increase in smoking over the last few years – less than 1%. 
Improving technology has made the use of screens – televisions, computers, cell phones – ubiquitous, and half of Kent’s youth population admits to spending excessive time on their screens, which can pose a very real addiction.
- Many more late teens (52%) use screens excessively, as opposed to younger youth (42% of grade 6 students with excessive use.
Recovery Options for Addicts in Kent
While a fair number of folk in Kent have admitted having addiction issues, they may not necessarily be aware of the treatment options available. Treatment in Kent is not as expensive in other areas of the country since the community emphasizes recovery and avoidance of substance abuse instead of trying to hide the problem.
- Washington state has an extensive number of rehabilitation programs available for most conceivable addictions.
- A number of local addiction and mental health hotlines are available for counseling.
- King County has a Youth Marijuana Prevention Program.
- There are quite a few rehab centers with programs that target cannabis addicts in the city of Kent itself.
In communities where marijuana is legalized, the community begins to stigmatize the drug differently. “Potheads” are instead labeled as “medicinal users,” and it becomes difficult to identify when medicinal – or even recreational – use becomes a problematic habit. The line between marijuana users and marijuana abusers is blurred, but in Kent, headshops offer dozens of strains of marijuana and paraphernalia for smoking it a dozen different ways. The addictive nature of marijuana has become so common, that the community doesn’t see it as a problem. Citations