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Tukwila , WA
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Port Townsend , WA
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Spokane Valley , WA
Washington Addiction Treatment
In recent years, heroin has become more alarmingly accessible in Washington state. Between 2019 and 2021, the Seattle area (King Couty) experienced a steep rise in the number of drug-related deaths – up 68 percent.
From 2019 to 2020, Washington saw a 37% increase in the number of drug-induced deaths, from 1,259 to 1,724.
The most frequently abused drugs in Washington are:
In the past several years, laws have been implemented to tighten the regulations surrounding prescription drugs. This has caused a surge in the number of heroin users. As more residents turn to heroin as an alternative to painkillers, Washington officials are focused on raising awareness about drug abuse in and around susceptible communities.
With direct access to the Pacific Ocean and Canada, Washington has become a prevalent state for drug imports. Oftentimes, substances enter through the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, post office shipments and cargo ships. Different organizations across the state are now joining forces in an effort to combat the state’s high percentage of drug trafficking.
Laws Of Washington Drug Use
Illicit drugs are illegal in Washington and can entail serious criminal charges. For example, a small possession of heroin or cocaine is considered a felony, punishable by five years in jail and a $10,000 fine. A charge with the intent to deliver a controlled substance, such as cocaine, increases the penalty to 10 years in jail plus a $25,000 maximum fine.
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Marijuana Laws In Washington
In 2012, Washington became one of the first states to pass regulations for taxing and regulating the recreational use of marijuana. For several years thereafter, Washington’s medical and recreational marijuana laws were kept separate. Then, in July 2016, the two legal markets were integrated into one.
When the new law took effect, medical marijuana dispensaries had two choices: obtain a government-issued cannabis license or close their shop. Patients with medicinal marijuana prescriptions now have to go to medically endorsed stores to get what they need.
Medical marijuana patients can join a patient registry to achieve greater possession limits, as well as tax breaks.
Qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in Washington include:
- Crohn’s disease
- Hepatitis C
- Intractable pain
- Persistent muscle spasms
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Traumatic brain injury
- Any “terminal or debilitating condition”
Recreational users, on the other hand, are limited to one ounce of marijuana for personal uses. They may also possess up to 16 ounces of solid marijuana-infused product, and 72 ounces of liquid marijuana-infused product.
Even though recreational and medical marijuana are legal statewide, certain conditions are illegal such as:
- Possession of any amount above the limit.
- Possession by an individual under the age of 21 years.
- Use in public settings, including the consumption of a marijuana-infused product.
- Transportation of marijuana outside of state limits.
- Driving under the influence of marijuana.
- Production or distribution of marijuana without an appropriate state license.
- Possession on federal lands including national parks and forests.
|1 oz. or less (private possession/consumption)
|No criminal penalty
|No jail time and no fine
|1 oz. or less (public consumption)
|No jail time, but $100 fine
|1 oz. – 40 g.
|24 hours – 90 days in jail, plus up to $1,000 fine
|More than 40 g.
|5 years in jail, plus up to $10,000 fine
Other criminal charges may apply such as an intent to distribute, consumption while operating a vehicle and additional traffic safety laws.
Addiction Treatment Laws In Washington
Washington has several harm reduction laws in place to help those suffering from an addiction. For instance, the 911 Good Samaritan law urges individuals to call for emergency medical assistance in the event of an overdose. The law provides immunity from prosecution for drug possession charges to bystanders who witness an overdose.
An estimated 88 percent of opiate users in Washington have said they are aware of the Good Samaritan law and are likely to call 911 during an overdose.
Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP)
In 2011, Washington implemented its Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). The program is used as a safety tool for medical professionals and pharmacists. With information made available through a patient care tool, physicians are able to review information before prescribing medications.
Benefits of Washington’s PDMP include:
- Preventing drug misuse and overdoses.
- Promoting referrals for pain management.
- Treating drug addiction.
- Detecting insurance fraud.
- Supporting patient care.
High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Program
The Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program develops various drug control efforts among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. In designated HIDTA counties, the program focuses on immobilizing Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO) that negatively impact local neighborhoods. Through technology and other resources, the program is able to help detect, disrupt and dismantle any organizations involved in drug trafficking.
Drug Court In Washington
Washington has two forms of drug courts: adult drug court and juvenile drug court. Both programs provide nonviolent substance abuse offenders with an opportunity to receive treatment instead of serving time in jail. Drug court requires individuals to attend drug treatment, undergo random drug tests, meet with a probation officer and appear before the judge on a frequent basis. In the case of juvenile drug court, adolescents will also be required to work on substance abuse and related issues with their family.
Upon successfully completing drug court, charges will be dropped. However, failure to meet the program’s requirements will result in termination from drug court and sentencing for the original charges.
Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative (DOSA)
The Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative (DOSA) program helps nonviolent offenders cut their jail time by up to 50 percent. This alternative program provides chemical dependency treatment and supervision to those who have been charged with a drug-related crime. Requirements often involve community supervision and outpatient treatment programs.
DOSA allows a person to spend their remaining sentence out of jail while attending outpatient treatment monitoring and other recovery services.
Through the DOSA program, Washington hopes to reduce jail time for nonviolent, drug-related offenders and help them start on a long-term path to recovery.
Treatment Centers In Washington
Washington offers a wide range of treatment centers, as well as some state-funded options for those in need. Many statewide rehab facilities accept private insurance plans and provide solutions for financial difficulties.
While researching treatment options, it’s important to look into the program’s therapy methods, recovery rates, rehab duration, as well as location. It’s possible that the program for your situation is available is out of state. A program further from home, however, shouldn’t deter you. Choosing a treatment center in another state can better allow you to focus on your life, health and long-term sobriety.
Division Of Behavioral Health And Recovery (DBHR)
The Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR) in Washington provides funding for prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery services to those enrolled in Medicaid.
Between 2013 and 2015, the DBHR helped serve more than 83,000 youth and adults struggling with addiction and mental health issues.
Due to an overwhelming number of individuals seeking state-funded treatment, DBHR has implemented levels of priority. Those who receive priority for state-funded treatment are:
- Pregnant women who use IV drugs.
- Pregnant women.
- Others who use IV drugs.
- Post-partum women (up to one year).
- Parents/legal guardians involved with Child Protective Services.
- Parenting adults.
With the help of services provided by DBHR, individuals have timely access to treatment and recovery programs.
Contact a treatment provider today to talk about rehab options.
Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelor’s and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffrey’s desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffrey’s mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.
- More from Jeffrey Juergens
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