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2023 Fentanyl Overdose Deaths in King County Set a Grim New Record

Fentanyl Addiction Treatment

Washington’s King County saw nearly 1,100 confirmed fentanyl overdose deaths in 2023, according to data from Public Health-Seattle & King County (PHSKC), a grim statistic that demonstrates the dire need for comprehensive fentanyl addiction treatment in the area. 

One of the largest metropolitan health departments in the U.S., PHSKC serves a resident population of nearly 2.5 million, with 19 acute healthcare hospitals and more than 7,000 medical professionals. King County contains the city of Seattle, which is the county seat, along with 2,500 or so square miles west of the city. King County also includes Vashon Island and Maury Island.

Released January 17, 2024, PHSKC’s King County Fatal Overdose Report 2023 reported that the 1,066 fentanyl overdose deaths represent a 47% increase from 2022. That year,  fentanyl overdose deaths reached a then-record-setting 715.

What the Experts Say

Local experts attribute the spike in fentanyl-related deaths partly to the rapid shift in the local illicit drug supply. A few years ago, plant-based drugs like heroin and cocaine were popular. Now, highly potent synthetic drugs like fentanyl and methamphetamine dominate the scene.

The PHSKC report appears to back up this claim, claiming that fatal overdoses involving methamphetamine also rose in 2023, with the stimulant involved in nearly 717 deaths in 2023, compared with 540 in 2022. 

“Fentanyl deaths have increased every year for the past decade as the availability and the rate at which it is combined with other illegal drugs has steadily increased,” said Dr. Brian Smart, Medical Director at Northpoint Washington. “Fentanyl is so dangerous because it is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.”

In light of such alarming numbers, it would be wise to define what fentanyl both is and is not. It would also be wise to explore options for fentanyl addiction treatment.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can ease chronic pain and other medical conditions. According to an April 2022 study by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the rates of death by overdose involving illicitly manufactured fentanyl and other synthetic opioids among teens quadrupled from 2018 to 2021. 

One factor contributing to this increase, JAMA said, was teens mistaking counterfeit tablets containing fentanyl for less-powerful drugs like opioids or Xanax. Fentanyl infiltrated the illegal heroin market years ago, but teens and young adults have been found more likely to take pills than ingest powdered drugs.

What Makes Fentanyl So Dangerous?

Fentanyl is roughly 50 times more powerful than heroin and about 100 times more powerful than morphine. Fentanyl is also highly addictive. All it takes is one use of fentanyl to develop cravings for it. This is because fentanyl alters the user’s brain chemistry by binding with neuroreceptors that transmit pain signals from all over the body.

Fentanyl also sparks a surge of “feel good” endorphin levels in the brain. Such raised levels create a euphoric state of mind. This results in the brain remembering its last fentanyl use as a positive behavior. 

Of course, addiction to fentanyl means repeated fentanyl use, which in turn means an increased risk of fentanyl overdose.

Life After Fentanyl Addiction

Fortunately, effective fentanyl addiction treatment is available at Northpoint Washington. Our inpatient treatment facility is about a 30-minute drive north of downtown Seattle. We offer a range of treatment approaches to help those addicted to opioids or opiates, including fentanyl.

Our fentanyl addiction treatment program begins with our detoxification program. Designed to rid the body of all traces of the substance, detox can last from two and five days. What follows is a medical assessment of the client’s physical and mental health needs. This includes a full history of substance use.

“At Northpoint Washington, we offer withdrawal management including supportive symptom treatment, individualized buprenorphine-naloxone tapers, followed by a residential intensive inpatient program,” said Janine Gundel, ARNP.  “This allows for a relatively comfortable withdrawal experience as well as subsequent diagnosis and treatment of underlying mental health conditions, time for physical healing to begin, and careful discharge planning to minimize relapse risk.”

Afterwards, clients usually begin a 28-day residency at our Edmonds, Wash.-based inpatient facility. During this time, they undergo various therapies and treatments. Such therapies and treatments address the addiction and any co-occurring mental health disorders. Alumni of Northpoint Washington are then compelled to pursue long-term sobriety through our outpatient offerings with Northpoint Seattle.

Our compassionate and highly qualified professional team has helped countless people avoid becoming just another sad statistic. We empower people to  take their lives back from addiction.

Reach Out for Fentanyl Addiction Treatment Today

The modern inpatient facility of Northpoint Washington offers comprehensive fentanyl addiction treatment programs for you or your loved one. If you’re unsure whether Northpoint Washington is right for you, contact us today by calling 425.385.0526 or filling out our online form to discuss our treatment options or find answers to any questions you may have.