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Washington State Drug Statistics

This page will go over some of the most common and prevalent substance abuse issues throughout Washington State. You will find information about the opioid epidemic, including prescription pill use and overdose statistics. Learn more about how marijuana legalization has affected the state and what, if any impact, it has had on teen drug use. There is information about alcohol abuse and alcoholism as well as statistics about meth use. Find out what the state is doing to help fight the severe drug issues in Washington. Helpful resources are available to help you find a Washington detoxification or rehabilitation facilities. There are free helplines of and additional information regarding substance abuse. This guide also covers alcohol and marijuana laws as well as DUI laws and penalties in Washington. If you or someone you care about are in need of help, please visit us. Washington medical detox locator.

Substance Abuse Overview

Substance abuse is a rampant issue throughout the United States, some states are affected more than others. Certain drugs are far more prevalent in different geographic regions. The North East battles with opioids and crack at rates higher than the rest of the country. Meth use is one of the most prominent issues in the West. Black tar heroin, benzos, and marijuana are significant drug threats to Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. Then there is Washington state. The state’s residents struggle with a variety of substances, including opiates, meth, prescription drugs, cocaine, alcohol, and even marijuana. It has some of the highest drug and alcohol abuse rates in all of the United States.

Last year there were nearly 3,000 alcohol-related deaths throughout the state. These deaths can be attributed to drunk driving, alcohol poisoning, or alcohol-related health issues. 17% of Washington residents over the age of 21 reported binge drinking at least one time over the past 30 days. Binge drinking is classified as having 5 or more alcoholic drinks over a short period of time. The occasional overindulgence of alcohol isn’t too harmful to the human body, but excessive binge drinking or driving under the influence can be extremely detrimental.

Heroin, cocaine, meth, marijuana and prescription drugs are all serious threats to Washington State. Meth-related overdoses are much lower in Washington state when compared to the national average. There were 21 fatal meth overdose deaths in Washington’s capital in 2013.
Most of the meth used in the country comes from Mexico and is around 90% pure. This means it is far more addictive and deadly.

Small homemade meth labs are still quite common in WA. These labs produce meth that averages around 40% purity. While still highly addictive it is not as deadly as the meth being made by the cartel. In 2017 there were a total of 476 meth-related overdose deaths throughout the state. Breaking free from the powerful grip of meth addiction alone is no easy task. Please, if you or someone you care about are currently struggling, seek out professional help.

Opioid Epidemic

More Washingtonians will pass away this year due to an opioid overdose, more than car accidents and gun related deaths. It is the most prevalent substance abuse issue in the state and must be treated as the epidemic that it is. Heroin, prescription painkillers, and synthetic opiates like fentanyl are now the biggest drug threat to Washington. Opioid overdose related deaths have been on a terrifying rise for the past 10 years and without proper action they will continue to rise every year.

"Opioid overdose related deaths have been on a terrifying rise for the past 10 years"

Opioids, especially heroin and fentanyl, were not nearly as serious of an issue throughout the state a decade ago. Widespread abuse of these substances has slowly become a more prevalent problem thanks to the rise of prescription painkillers. Medical providers and professionals in Washington wrote 68.2 prescriptions for opioids per 100 people in 2015, totaling just under 5,000,000 prescriptions. While is lower than the national rate of 70 prescriptions opioids per 100 people, it helped fuel the current heroin epidemic that the state is facing.

Overdose deaths related to the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl have increased by nearly 70 percent in Washington in just two years. In the first six months of 2018, nearly 100 people died from a fentanyl overdose in Washington. Just one year before that during the same time period, 48 people passed away due to a fentanyl overdose. Many substance abuse specialists believe 2019 will surpass the already heartbreaking numbers that occurred the year prior.

"Overdose deaths related to the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl have increased by nearly 70 percent in Washington in just two years."

The CDC said 70,237 people died nationally from overdoses of drugs in 2017. Of those, fentanyl or other similar synthetic opiates were involved in 28,466 overdose deaths, which is right around 40 percent of all fatal overdoses. The CDC said nationwide deaths from fentanyl in 2017 increased by 45 percent when compared to 2016. Opiod overdoses in Washington cost the state around $34 billion each year, but the financial impact is nowhere near the emotional impact that this widespread loss of life has had on the state.

Legal Marijuana

In November of 2012, voters in Washington approved a bill that made marijuana for adults aged 21 and over legal for recreational and medical use. The sale of all cannabis throughout the state is regulated by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, which used to be called the Liquor Control Board. Upon legalizations, questions arose throughout the state about how the new laws would impact the drug’s use among adults and adolescents throughout the state.

A decrease in Violent Crime

Some people believe that the legalization of the drug would also increase violent crime throughout the state. This was the complete opposite of what happened. According to FBI data, 295.6 violent offenses were reported in 2011 per 100,000 residents of Washington. This rate fell to 284.4 violent offenses per 100,000 people in 2015 which was one of the last full years of data available to the public. According to the same reports, back in 2012 there were 3.6 violent offenses per 1,000 state residents, by 2016, the state’s violent crime rate dropped to 3.3 offenses per 1,000 people.

Not only are violent crime rates down, but the state is saving billions of dollars a year by not imprisoning those charged with marijuana-related offenses. State data showed that there were 1,312 marijuana-related felony offenses committed between June 2008 and December 2009 in Washington. During the 18-month period following the opening of recreational cannabis stores in 2014, only 147 crimes related to marijuana led to felony sentences-a decrease of almost 90 percent.

Teen Marijuana Use Washington State

The fears that legalizing cannabis in Washington would increase teen use have also been proven false. According to new research, the number of teens who use marijuana since the new laws were passed has decreased significantly. The main difference in use was observed among teens between 15 and 16 years of age, whose use of the drug decreased from about 20% to less than 18%. Among 8th graders, the use of marijuana fell from nearly 10% to just over 7%. There was no notable change for high school seniors aged 17-18.

As of December of 2018, there were a total of 36,925 active medical marijuana cards in Washington state. A vast majority of these cards, 33,800, are for adults over the age of 18. There were 346 cards for minors under the age of 18 and 2,979 designated provider cards. Medical marijuana allows those with a card to possess and grow their own marijuana, which is quite different than the recreational laws.


The following links help you locate information regarding drug and alcohol abuse throughout Washington. Free helplines, drug use statistics and other resources are listed here and are all free to use. These links will help you locate more information regarding overdose statistics, substance abuse prone areas, and rehabs in Washington state. If you are looking for more information or have any questions regarding where to get help for drug addiction or alcoholism, please contact our toll-free line. If you would just like to know more about the warning signs of addiction or how to have an intervention, we can also be of assistance. A specialist is standing by 24/7 to help you through this difficult time in any way that they can. Calls are 100% confidential and free of charge.

Types of Detox

Detoxes in Washington State

If you are looking for detox in Washington, these links can help you find nearby detox facilities, centers, and clinics throughout the state. It is not hard to become overwhelmed if you are looking for a detox or rehab center alone and without proper direction. If you are struggling to find the right detox program in Washington, please contact us at any time to get some free help during this difficult time. The detoxes listed below are just for the five largest cities and towns in Washington. If you don't see a location nearby listed, please reach out to us for further assistance. Our phone lines are open 24/7 and a substance abuse specialist is always standing by. Calls and referrals are always free of charge and completely confidential.

Alcohol Laws Washington

Those under 21 years of age are not legally allowed to purchase alcohol in Washington State. It is a crime to try and use a fake ID in an attempt to purchase alcohol. Alcohol laws in Washington do allow those under 21 to consume alcohol legally as long as they are being supervised a parent or guardian. Alcohol laws in Washington allow anyone over the age of 18 to serve alcohol as long as a supervisor of 21 years of age or older is present. You must be at least 21 years old to be a bartender in Washington.

"All open alcohol containers must be kept in the trunk of the vehicle in accordance with the open container law of Washington."

Licensed bars and restaurants can sell alcohol between 6am until 2am. These hours can vary town to town and county to county. An open container of alcohol can not be removed from the premises, unless it is a bottle of wine which must be corked before leaving. Guests of the hotels and motels can reseal alcohol from a bar and bring it into their rooms. All open alcohol containers must be kept in the trunk of the vehicle in accordance with the open container law of Washington.

Anyone under the age of 21 with a BAC of 0.02% to 0.07% is considered legally intoxicated and will face DUI charges. They can face having their license suspended, more than 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. For a second conviction, they will have their license suspended for at least one year as well as potential prison time and a fine up to $1,000. However, if a person is under 21, a DUI is not required for the suspension of a driver's license. Just having alcohol in the car will result in a license suspension, potential jail time, and fines.

"Just having alcohol in the car will result in a license suspension, potential jail time, and fines."

Anyone over the age of 21 is considered legally intoxicated if their BAC is above 0.08%. If caught driving over the legal limit there's an automatic suspension of the license for 90 days, they will face time behind bars and may be required to BAC monitoring at home. They will also be fined up to $8,125 and if the judge requests they will have to have an ignition interlocking device (IID) installed at their expense. The penalties increase for a second DUI are more severe. The driver’s license will be suspended for no less than two years, they will spend at least 30 days behind bars and have electronic home surveillance for two months 60 days. They will face the same fine and maybe required to have an IID installed in their vehicle for up to five years.

Washington Marijuana Laws

In 2012 Washington State decriminalized marijuana and made it legal for both medical and recreational use. This does not mean that there are no laws that regulate the sale and use of the drug. A number of restrictions still exist and if one does not follow these strict guidelines they might face a variety of legal repercussions. It is important for you to be aware of the following Washington marijuana laws

Legal Marijuana in Washington State

Marijuana can only be bought and possessed by adults aged 21 and over. Anyone of legal age can buy up to one ounce of usable marijuana when it is in its plant or flower form. When sold as edibles one can possess up to one pound of solid-formed edibles that have cannabis in them. In its liquid form, one can have up to 72 ounces of the drug and up to 7 grams of concentrated marijuana.

One cannot just start selling and buying marijuana anywhere in Washington state. Pot can only be bought and sold throughout Washington by retail stores that have been licensed to do so by the state. A valid photo ID is required to purchase the drug and these retail stores do not allow anyone under 21 to enter. Most retail stores in the state accept both cash and credit cards.

Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

Consuming marijuana in public is not allowed in Washington and can result in fines and potential jail time. If one is operating a motor vehicle and has more than 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood they can face DUI charges similar to that of alcohol which are substantial legal penalties. No one should attempt to take marijuana across state lines and is very illegal. One will face years imprisonment and massive fines if they attempt to bring marijuana across the Washington state border.