addiction | KNKX

addiction

The 64 year-old veteran and cycling coach paddling to Alaska is doing so to raise awareness for his homelessness outreach efforts.
Keith LaPlante

Steve Rhoades will soon be on his way to Alaska. On June 14, he will leave his home on Bainbridge Island with nothing but survival supplies, a twenty-foot paddelboard and his hands — his motor of choice for a more than 750-mile naval journey.

Patrick Semansky / AP

Deaths from drug and alcohol use are growing in King County. New numbers from Public Health Seattle & King County show that 379 people died in 2017, up from 348 the year before. That’s a nearly 10 percent increase from last year.

Among the factors driving the increase is the use of heroin and other opioids.

Darryl Dyck / AP Photo/The Canadian Press

Pierce County leaders took a first step Monday toward banning safe-injection sites in unincorporated parts of the county. 

A committee of the County Council voted 2-1 to send the proposal to the full council, where members could take a final vote as early as May. 

Will James / KNKX

Paramedics in Tacoma are giving out plastic bags full of lifesaving nasal spray to people who survive overdoses of heroin and prescription opioids. 

"Mt. Rainier from Orting, WA" by Lana_aka_BADGRL is licensed under CC by 2.0 http://bit.ly/2Bslcqu

The nation's opioid addiction epidemic is a challenge for small, rural communities, where the fatal impacts can overwhelm local resources and treatment may be lacking. 

Toby Talbot / Associated Press

Those trying to tackle the opioid crisis say solving it will take more than money and government help. It will take a change in attitude. 

Lauren Davis, with Washington Recovery Alliance, says the stigma attached to addiction makes it less likely that people will seek treatment.

Charlie Oen's battle with addiction started when he was 16 and his family moved to Lima, Ohio. It was the last stop in a string of moves his military family made — from Panama to North Carolina, Kentucky, Texas and Germany.

"I went toward a bad group because those were the people that accepted me," he says. Drugs became a substitute for real friendships.

PIERCE COUNTY

Pierce County lawmakers this week voted down a sales tax that would have raised an estimated $10 million for mental health and substance abuse programs.

The South Sound county will remain the only one of Washington's densely-populated counties without the 1/10 of 1 percent sales tax for mental health. Twenty-two of Washington's 39 counties have the tax, along with the city of Tacoma.

In 1964, the U.S. surgeon general released a report on the health impacts of smoking, and it shaped the public and government's attitudes toward tobacco for years to come. On Thursday, another surgeon general's report was issued, this time tackling a much broader issue: addiction and the misuse and abuse of chemical substances. The focus isn't just one drug, but all of them.

Courtesy of Pierce County

More than half of Washington's 39 counties have a special sales tax funding mental health and substance abuse programs. 

Among the state's urban counties, Pierce County is the exception. Leaders there have resisted enacting tax the one-tenth of 1 percent sales tax for years. 

But with homelessness and addiction on the rise, some county leaders are looking to change that.

In the field of addiction treatment, already brimming with intensely personal and emotional debates, there may be nothing more controversial than the role of 12-step programs, which are based on Alcoholics Anonymous.

At least 80 percent of current American addiction treatment— for both alcohol and other drugs — is based on teaching patients the ideology of the steps and persuading them to become members and attend meetings for the rest of their lives.