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Preventing Substance Abuse and Improving Recovery

Sarah Nerad's story of recovery.

In 2017, more than 1,100 deaths due to drug use were reported in Washington, according to the state's Department of Health. Research indicates that early intervention and drug treatment programs reduce addictions and deaths.

The state has continued to build a strong foundation of research-based practices focused on individual interventions, as well as expanded the focus to community-level interventions and outcomes. Washington continues to make progress in combating drug-related deaths, in part by incorporating current treatment trends, including the integration of drug treatment with mental health promotion and coordinated action to end the opioid crisis.

Factors That Influence Substance Abuse

Prevention programs – Research shows that prevention programs involving families, schools, communities and the media are effective for preventing or reducing drug use and addiction. When young people perceive drugs as harmful, they tend to decrease their drug use. 

Identification of need – Tools to screen and test for substance abuse and related behaviors are important to providing appropriate and timely interventions. 

Medical care and behavioral therapy – Research shows that combining addiction treatment medicines with behavioral therapy results in the best chance of success for most individuals.

What We Are Doing To Deliver Results

The program and services listed below are a sample of statewide activities that focus both on providing access to resources for misuse and abuse of substances for Washingtonians:

  • Multiple agencies coordinate to take action to end the opioid crisis.
  • Washington State Health Care Authority funds substance use prevention programs statewide and provides oversight and support to local partners.
  • The state developed guidelines and screening tools for providers to identify pregnant women with substance abuse patterns. Now almost all pregnant women in the state are screened for substance abuse.
  • Washington's Department of Social and Health Services funds the Parent-Child Assistance Program an evidence‐based home visitation case‐management model for mothers who abuse alcohol or drugs during pregnancy. Its goals are to help mothers build healthy families and prevent future births of children exposed prenatally to alcohol and drugs.
  • The Washington State Community Prevention and Wellness Initiative is reducing underage use of alcohol and drugs by building local coalitions in high-need communities.
  • The College Coalition for Substance Abuse Prevention brings together several state government agencies as well as 37 colleges and universities to foster healthy campus environments.

For any questions or comments please email us at results@gov.wa.gov.

Performance Dashboard

Objective: Reduce Opioid-Related Overdose Deaths

Source: Washington State Department of Health Death Certificates

*Prescription opioids excludes fentanyl-involved deaths
**Fentanyl deaths includes other non-methadone synthetic opioids
Note: Individuals may overdose from taking more than one type of opioid.  Deaths can be included in more than one category

Substance Uses By Types