Updated on May 20, 2024
2 min read

Updated Drug and Alcohol Statistics for Washington

Washington State is grappling with a severe drug and alcohol abuse crisis, with the state experiencing high rates of substance use disorders, opioid-related overdose deaths, and youth substance use. This article presents an overview of the current state of drug and alcohol use in Washington, highlighting alarming statistics on the opioid epidemic, the rise of fentanyl, and the challenges in providing adequate treatment and recovery services.

  • Fentanyl's prominence in crime lab submissions rose from less than 9% in 2020 to over 50% in 2022.1
  • Each day about two people die of an opioid-related overdose in Washington.2
  • Opioid overdose deaths increased by over 35% in both 2020 and 2021.3

Substance Use and Disorders

Washington State is facing a growing problem with substance use and disorders, with various drugs becoming more prominent in recent years.

  • Fentanyl's prominence in crime lab submissions rose from less than 9% in 2020 to over 50% in 2022.1
  • Heroin and methamphetamine have become more prominent in Washington in recent years.1
  • The annual average prevalence of past-month illicit drug use among individuals aged 12 or older was 15.5% (2017-2019).1
washington chart 1

Alcohol Use and Related Issues

Alcohol use, particularly binge drinking and underage drinking, is a significant concern in Washington State.

  • In 2013, 17% of Washington adults reported binge drinking, a lower rate than the United States as a whole (19%).4
  • The annual average prevalence of past-month alcohol use among youth aged 12–17 was 10.1% (2014-2017).5
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Opioid Crisis and Overdose Deaths

The opioid crisis has had a devastating impact on Washington, with a high number of opioid-related overdose deaths and a sharp increase in recent years.

  • Each day about two people die of an opioid-related overdose in Washington.2
  • Opioid overdose deaths increased by over 35% in both 2020 and 2021.3

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Youth Substance Use

Youth substance use is a pressing concern in Washington, with rates often higher than the national average.

  • Washington State teens use drugs and alcohol at a higher rate than the national average.6
  • Marijuana use among teens has been consistently higher than the rest of the country since 2011.6

Additional Statistics

Other substance use trends and challenges in Washington include:

  • Drug overdose death rates increased from 14.1 per 100,000 in 2011 to 28.1 per 100,000 in 2021.7
  • Underage drinking cost the citizens of Washington $1.4 billion in 2007.8
  • Drug poisonings continue to increase in Washington, largely driven by psychostimulants with abuse potential and synthetic opioids.9

The statistics presented in this article paint a grim picture of the drug and alcohol abuse crisis in Washington. From the alarming rise of fentanyl to the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic and the troubling levels of youth substance use, it is clear that urgent action is needed to address these issues. By investing in prevention, treatment, and recovery services, and promoting collaboration among community stakeholders, Washington can work towards supporting those struggling with addiction and creating a healthier future for all its residents.

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Updated on May 20, 2024
9 sources cited
Updated on May 20, 2024
  1. "Fentanyl Testing at the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab." Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute, University of Washington, n.d.
  2. "Opioids." Washington State Department of Health, n.d.
  3. "Opioid Trends Across Washington State." Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute, University of Washington, n.d.
  4. "Drinking in Washington State." Washington State Department of Health, 2015.
  5. "Behavioral Health Barometer: Washington, Volume 5." Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2019.
  6. "Teen Drug Abuse in Washington State Higher than National Average." Ridgefield Recovery, n.d.
  7. "Mental Health and Substance Use State Fact Sheets: Washington." Kaiser Family Foundation, n.d.
  8. "Facts About Underage Drinking." Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, n.d.
  9. "Emerging Trends in Drug-Related Deaths in Washington State." Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute, University of Washington, n.d.

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