SEATTLE, KING COUNTY SET A NEW RECORD FOR OVERDOSE DEATHS IN 2016

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Overdose rates are now at record levels, killing more than 300 King County residents each year.

This epidemic is touching every member of the Seattle community. But together, we can help end it and save lives. It’s time for Seattle to say Yes to SCS.


Here’s the bottom line. There’s a hard-to-refute premise that you can’t get better if you’re dead. You can’t get better if you’re dead.”
— Jeannie Darneille | Washington State Senator

The City of Seattle and King County have been at the forefront of responding to epidemics in our community that are patient-focused, compassionate, and progressive. In the 80s, it was safe needle exchanges to protect public health. In the 90s, it was a focus on HIV/AIDs and the ways in which it could be better prevented through state, local and community partnerships.

Now, Seattle is poised to be one of the first U.S. cities to create a safe consumption space (SCS), a proven and positive solution that reduce deaths and medical issues, restore public safety and community spaces, and connect people who use drugs with resources for treatment.

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I’m here to tell you the war on drugs hasn’t worked. I was a foot soldier in it so I have a little bit of experience and I know that it’s been a failure. It’s been an abject failure, actually, so we have to try something different.”
— John Urquhart | Former King County Sheriff

Yes to SCS is a coalition of health care workers, organizational partners, parents who have lost loved ones, people seeking treatment, and advocates working to impress upon elected leaders that our community cannot wait any longer.

In 2016, the King County Executive, and the Mayors of Seattle, Auburn and Renton convened the “Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force.” Three primary sub-groups are formed – prevention, treatment, drug user health. And their Final Report and Recommendations included establishing, on a pilot program basis, at least two Community Health Engagement Locations (CHEL sites) where supervised consumption occurs for adults with substance use disorders in the Seattle and King County region.

In early 2017, the Seattle King County Board of Health adopted Resolution 17.01.1, “endorsing the…Task Force Final Report and calling on local and state actors to implement the public health policies outlined in the report, including the establishment of at least two pilot community health engagement location sites.”


The criminal justice system is the most expensive and least effective way to address what is fundamentally a public health problem. Safe consumption spaces save tax payer dollars by preventing unnecessary public health harms to individuals struggling with substance use disorder, but also by not utilizing courts, judges, and jails to address outdoor drug use. SCSs are a meaningful way to help us as a society shift away from our over-reliance on the criminal justice system and instead apply a public health approach to a public health problem.”
— Anita Khandelwal | Department of Public Defense

Treatment is the primary strategy of the King County Heroin and Opiate Addiction Task Force. Here's some perspective on King County's current investments in treatment compared to the proposed cost of an SCS:

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UPDATE: The Seattle City Council included $1.3 million in funding for the creation of an area SCS in the 2018 budget and is currently working with King County to identify possible locations.


Opioid addiction is killing people in our community, sparing no age, race, sexual identity, income level or neighborhood.”
— Dow Constantine | King County Executive