Most drug addicts want to give up the habit and are open to a wide range of services to help them manage their substance use and achieve positive results and important insights for policy makers.
According to the Syringe Exchange Health Survey 2019, which was conducted by the UW Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute and Public Health-Seattle & King County and published on the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute website, 82 percent of heroin users were and were about Half of methamphetamine users are interested in reducing or stopping their use.
The results of the biennial survey of people who inject illegal drugs in Washington State since 2015 also show that possession of naloxone – a drug that quickly reverses opioid overdose – has increased significantly.
The survey was conducted among 1,269 participants from most of the more than 30 fixed and mobile syringe service programs in 23 counties in Washington.
Researchers found that nearly 80 percent of King County and non-county respondents using opioids had a naloxone kit in 2019 compared to 2015 when only 47 percent in King County and 24 percent outside of Naloxon owned.
"These surveys provide important insights into the complex lives of people who use drugs in our state and can be used to shape our responses to health, public health, social service, public order, and the criminal justice system inform, especially during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, "said study co-author, Caleb Banta-Green, a senior research scientist at the institute.
Syringe service programs are designed to reduce the damage by preventing the transmission of fatal diseases. They offer a wide range of services, such as access to new syringes and injection devices, wound care, information on preventing overdoses and the treatment of substance use disorders.
Syringe exchanges continued throughout Washington State during the COVID-19 crisis, although the programs had to significantly change the way they deliver services, including the distribution of pre-packaged deliveries, outdoor relocation, and the provision of Mobile and delivery services.
Another important finding from the survey, according to Banta-Green, is that 68 percent of the participants diagnosed with hepatitis C remain untreated and are interested in treating this disease. This is good news because hepatitis C can be cured with three months of medication.
"We are honored to be working with our syringe service partners across Washington State to better understand how we can best help people who use drugs," Banta-Green said. "It is so important to understand that people are very interested in getting help and that the syringe exchange offers an incredible array of life saving services. They also offer ongoing personal relationships with members of our communities who are often in a personal crisis and are in poor health. "