Prevent Opioid Misuse

Prevent Opioid Misuse

Fewer People in Washington are Receiving Opioid Prescriptions

Source:  State of Washington Department of Health Prescription Monitoring Program.  

Limited to prescriptions dispensed directly to patients in Washington.

Many people are prescribed opioids to treat pain. Unfortunately, some of them develop opioid use disorder as a result. Others, like friends or family, may find and misuse leftover opioid prescriptions. 

What are we doing?

Decreasing unnecessary opioid prescriptions while encouraging safe prescribing by:

  • Training and supporting health care providers to use best practices when prescribing opioids.
  • Increasing use of the Prescription Monitoring Program among health care providers to coordinate patient care.

Working with communities, including tribal communities, to implement strategies to prevent opioid misuse, especially among youth by:

  • Educating people about the risks of opioid use, including misuse and overdose.
  • Promoting safe storage and disposal of prescriptions.

Collaborating with law enforcement to decrease supply of illegal opioids.

How are we doing?

  • Opioid prescribing guidelines and new state rules have been implemented to reduce the supply of unnecessary opioids.  
    • From 2015 to 2018, the rate of patients per 1000 who received an opioid prescription decreased 32 percent overall, and 46 percent among 10 to 24 year olds.
  • Through Community Prevention and Wellness Initiative and community grants, high-need areas are working on prevention strategies to reduce opioid misuse in youth and adults. Communities are also participating in National Drug Take Back Days and promoting Take Back Your Meds to remove unused, unwanted and expired drugs from their homes.  
  • Public awareness campaigns, such as Starts with One, help prevent youth opioid misuse.  
    • While the proportion of tenth graders using pain killers to get high decreased 50 percent between 2006 and 2018, one in 25 tenth graders report using pain killers to get high. 


There are many different places to view opioid-related data.  For a deeper dive into data, additional resources within Washington state are: