Skagit County Trends Newsletter


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Skagit County has been following available opioid-related data since 2016 with the initiation of the PHT's Opioid Workgroup Leadership Team. The total opioid related death data has been on the rise since 2002 with some notable spikes in 2009, 2013 and 14 - as seen in the Total Opioid-Related Deaths and Rate per 100,000 Residents indicator on the Trends site.

In 2016 Skagit County hired a new coroner, Hayley Thompson who has been diligently reviewing all opioid related deaths and more accurately classifying causes of death. A close focus on this trend along with a project to collect additional data and analyze them is helping Skagit county create a refined data set to monitor our Community-wide (opioid) Plan and Call to Action. This progress and attention paid to prevention within the opioid plan led to the Board of Health to adopt a Secure Medicine Return ordinance in February 2018.

The Secure Medicine Return program will provide a safe and easy way for individuals to dispose of unwanted or unneeded medications. The ordinance greatly expands the existing disposal locations to retail pharmacies and other approved locations throughout the county where the public can bring expired or excess medications for secure and free disposal. The sites will accept prescription medications

as well as over the counter items like cough medicines and analgesics. For residents who are unable to easily access a local drop box location, prepaid mailers will be available as an alternative at no cost to the user.

The ordinance requires that the pharmaceutical industry producers are responsible for the costs of the program by providing drop boxes and mailers, public education, secure pickup, transportation and destruction of the disposed materials. Drugs can be discarded anonymously and conveniently. We hope this will help prevent leftover medications from being intentionally or unintentionally misused. In addition, by providing safe disposal options, the program will keep toxics out of our water and garbage, preventing potential environmental contamination.

So, where does Skagit County stand regarding opioid prescriptions? Looking at the Opioid Prescriptions per 100 Residents indicator on the Trends site, we see that the county opioid prescription rate is above both the state and national benchmarks. While true, opioid prescriptions per 100 residents has decreased at a faster rate than both benchmarks. Additionally, looking at the actual data source for this indicator, we see many neighboring counties have a similar opioid prescription rate. The bottom line is that the Secure Medicine Return will reduce the excess amount of opioids that might fall into the wrong hands and on the streets, as well.

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