PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County reported more utilization of its syringe exchange program in 2018 than it’s ever had, however public well being officers didn’t essentially correlate that with more intravenous drug use.
There had been 94,140 syringes exchanged by means of the county program final 12 months, simply much less than three,000 more than 2017, based on the annual report introduced Thursday by Lisa McKenzie, a communicable illness specialist for the county.
McKenzie and Dr. Tom Locke, the well being officer for Jefferson County, up to date the Board of Health with comparable charts and figures.
The variety of syringes exchanged in the previous two years had been about twice the annual quantity, on common, between 2014-16.
There was a major distinction between 2016, when 47,790 syringes had been exchanged, and 2017, when 91,290 syringes had been exchanged, based on the report.
Locke steered that was as a result of many individuals who anonymously reported that they had beforehand injected solely methamphetamine at the moment are utilizing a number of medication.
“It used to be 80 percent methamphetamine to 20 percent heroin, and now it’s more 50/50,” Locke reported to the Board of Health.
McKenzie pointed to the info that confirmed 36 % utilizing solely meth and 59 % utilizing both heroin by itself or each meth and heroin.
“Our primary message is that a majority of our clients are definitely at risk for overdose,” McKenzie stated in a Friday interview.
The county exchange program started in 2000 with a give attention to stopping the unfold of blood-borne ailments reminiscent of HIV and hepatitis C, McKenzie stated.
It has grown to incorporate the distribution of naloxone, a prescription drug that may counteract a heroin overdose.
The annual report confirmed between 44 and 59 naloxone kits distributed in the county every year since 2016, when the program first grew to become out there by means of a partnership between the University of Washington and federal grant funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
In 2018, 55 kits and 68 naloxone refills had been issued, based on the report, which famous purchasers ceaselessly inform county officers they gave the primary package away. About half of the refills offered identified overdose remedy, the report stated.
“It seems like the naloxone program is really helping in overdose prevention, and we’re really pleased we’re able to have that program now,” McKenzie stated.
Public well being officers additionally present sharps containers and may concern supplies about security practices, together with remedy packages. The needles are picked up twice per 30 days by a medical disposal firm that serves many hospitals, McKenzie stated.
Part of the outreach emphasizes the significance of utilizing a syringe solely as soon as and to not share needles, McKenzie stated.
“Our primary goal is to prevent any type of a disease outbreak,” she stated.
The impact has been optimistic, with 49 % of customers reporting they solely used a syringe as soon as in 2011 and the identical figures being more than 70 % in every of the final 4 years, based on the report.
Locke stated Washington is a state with one of many lowest charges in the nation in phrases of latest HIV or hepatitis C circumstances.
“We were instituting a syringe exchange program in Jefferson County when there were fewer than 100 in the whole country,” he informed the Board of Health. “We were out in front of the syringe exchange program.”
The county well being division provides the nameless syringe exchange program from 2 to four p.m. on Mondays and Fridays, and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays at its places of work at 615 Sheridan St. in Port Townsend.
Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean might be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].