The Solutions We Have

Christian m.

Current Solutions to the problem of Heroin addiction in Seattle;

There are several new solutions being  implemented in the Seattle area, that have been taken from European nations and put into practice on a small scale. The results have been decidedly positive and it is likely that we will see the advancement of heroin addiction, as well as other forms of addiction treatment continue in the same fashion. Recently several counties in the Seattle area have voted to approve Supervised injection sites, as well as employ harm reduction measures.There has also been a large push by many Seattle communities to fund and operate needle exchange services. The supervised injection site, or “safe room” is a designated space where illicit drug users can partake intravenously, in a sanitary facility, with medical professionals at the ready. This helps to take heroin use off of the streets, thereby reducing the number of overdose related fatalities. These facilities are generally equipped with EMTs, and are a part of the harm reduction approach to limiting the amount of heroin use in public places.

Harm reduction methods are becoming increasingly popular among liberal cities, like Seattle in the 21st century. The traditional war on drugs approach has been found by many agencies, including The World Health Organization as being minimally effective. Another effective form of Harm reduction is opioid replacement therapy (ORT), where users are transitioned from a euphoric opioid, to a less potent blend of opioids and artificial compounds. Harm reduction has taken many forms but the most readily evident is in litigation, there are 24 states that have employed harm reduction in one way or another. In many areas of Seattle, as well as other major cities there are needle exchange programs in operation, where you are able to exchange your used needles for clean ones in the same quantity. These programs are targeted specifically at the HIV/AIDS  contracting demographic of heroin users. The american medical association found in a 2013 study that those who participate in clean needle exchange programs or safe injection site are more likely to seek treatment for addiction than those who do not.They have since created a task force for combating heroin addiction in the streets and are making progress by partnering with social media as well as a host of first response apps designed to be able to allow users to contact emergency response units in case of a medical emergency.

There are many methods currently in practice for combating heroin addiction, but the rise in use has come as a result of an increase in the implementation of prescription based opiates. The biggest change will come when regulations are inflicted upon the pharmaceutical industry, and medicinal opiates are diversified. There are many promising forms of holistic and naturopathic medicine. Both of these disciplines are devoid of the use of opiates as a treatment mechanism. In some cases  medical Marijuana may be  harnessed as an alternative treatment for those with a higher propensity toward opioid dependence.The Chemical makeup of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is such that it is not chemically addictive. As far as pain treatments go, this means that it is able to target the brain’s pain receptors without causing an addictive degree of endorphin release. Treatment methods in this field are still completely new to medical science as a whole, and remain largely untested,pending further legalization.  Based upon the standing success of these program, if any of these methods of Harm reduction can be harnessed on a large enough scale the result would likely be an across the board reduction in heroin overdoses, and usage as a whole.

            The DEA has released a statistical analysis of Seattle’s Heroin epidemic through the previous decade, and concluded that approximately 1.6 adults in the united states have tried heroin at some point in their lives. The result of this has been an increase in the number of deaths from heroin overdoses to about 122,000 in 2015. Another common treatment for heroin users seeking help, is behavioral therapy, which consists of varying psychotherapy techniques designed to target addictive habits in individuals with addictive personality issues. This techniques is from the article Provisional Laws of Acquired Behavior (Edward Thorndike 1911).

                  Some doctors are able to prescribe controlled doses of methadone as a means of combating opioid addiction, and helping in the detoxification process. Typically the prescriptive concentration of methadone is sold under the name Dolophine, although because it acts on opioid receptors directly there is a notable degree of risk for addiction to methadone itself. Because of the risk of dependency, doses are usually supervised by one or more healthcare providers, and tapered down quickly. Most of these methods of treatment have their benefits and flaws, but ultimately it is the duty of the pharmaceutical industry to provide medications that are absent from the list of prescribable opiates. In western countries where opioid prescriptions are highly regulated, there has been a consistent drop in the number of users (European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Abuse 2016). Overall, great strides have been made in combating the problem of heroin and other opioid addiction, but the introduction of an app, similar to the pulse point app, but targeted at treating overdoses and responding quickly to emergency situations, would help to decrease the number of fatalities each year in Seattle, and eventually the world.


Ronayne, Kathleen. “Where Do the Presidential Candidates Stand on Treating Drug Addiction?” PBS News Hour. KCTS, 1 Nov. 2016. Web. 1 Nov. 2016.

Arnold, Alexandria. “Seattle Tries to Curb Heroin Deaths by Offering a Safe Place to Use.” Bloomberg. Business Week, 5 Oct. 2016. Web. 1 Nov. 2016.

“Opium Throughout History.” PBS Frontline. KCTS, 22 Oct. 2006. Web. 1 Nov. 2016.



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