Substance use becomes a public health concern when it leads to ill physical or mental health effects, including dependence, dangerous levels of use such as overdose and addiction, or social isolation. There is growing evidence that structural and community disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic have negatively impacted substance use trends.
Overdose deaths for all drug types have been increasing nationally, statewide, and locally in recent years. Snohomish County has a statistically higher overdose mortality rate in 2020 than the Washington State average and is significantly exceeding the Healthy People 2030 goal.
In the U.S. in 2020, nearly 75% of drug overdose deaths involved an opioid. These deaths increasingly involve synthetic opioids like fentanyl. In the last few years, opioid overdose mortality has nearly doubled in Snohomish County. This increase has been widely attributed to the availability and high-risk use of illicit fentanyl.