Skip to main content

Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force

Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force

Behavioral Health and Recovery Division

To confront the region’s growing heroin and opioid epidemic, the Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force recommends a comprehensive strategy that focuses on:

  • Prevention

  • Increasing access to treatment on demand

  • Reducing the number of fatal overdoses.


In King County, like many places across the country, is seeing sharp increases in the use and abuse of heroin and prescription opiates. The rate of addiction is high and availability of treatment has not kept pace with the need.

In 2016, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus and Renton Mayor Denis Law convened the Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force, bringing together a wide range of experts across multiple disciplines to recommend immediate actions to confront the epidemic. Task Force meetings took place over a period of six months and a final report and recommendations were issued in September 2016.

The Task Force is continuing to meet, both as a body and in small subcommittees to move the recommendations forward. The three active groups are a prevention workgroup, a quarterly medication-assisted treatment provider meeting and an emergency department buprenorphine learning collaborative. If you are interested in participating in any of these groups, please contact the Behavioral Health and Recovery Division.

Facebook Live Q&A on CHELs
 Watch the Facebook Live Q&A session about supervised consumption sites hosted by task force co-chairs Dr. Jeff Duchin and Brad Finegood.

Don't Hang on to Meds

Learn how you can participate in our "Don't Hang on to Meds" campaign to promote the reasons why it’s important to return medications and create awareness of medicine return drop-boxes.


Download the webinar.


Download the Task Force's full report.

Task Force Report (PDF) If the document does not open in your browser, right-click and "Save as".


2018 Year-End Summary
2018 Year-End Report
2017 Year-End Summary


Workgroups comprised of King County agencies, community health, medical providers and other community members have been working to implement the recommendations made by the task force. Download a 2017 year-end summary on the current progress of implementation.

Primary Prevention

Promoting responsible prescribing and patient education

The Primary Prevention Task Force Workgroup is working with medical professionals, the Bree Collaborative and others to promote responsible opioid prescribing and participate in a campaign to educate a broad audience about opioids. The Bree Collaborative and Washington Health Alliance's Opioid Medication & Pain flier is available in 22 languages and is provided as a patient education tool to community health centers and pharmacies.

Opioid education series at King County libraries

A successful opioid education series ("Addressing the Opiate Epidemic") was coordinated with the King County Library System, where Task Force members, partners and treatment providers provided panel presentations at seven community libraries on topics of interest in early 2017.

Overdose awareness week campaign

In advance of International Overdose Awareness Day on Aug. 31, 2017, the Primary Prevention Task Force Workgroup launched the social media campaign "Community voices on overdose prevention" to share community perspectives on preventing overdose and addiction. Throughout the week, a series of guest blogs were posted on the Public Health Insider blog and boosted with social media posts. The campaign featured:

King County's Secure Medicine Return Program

King County's take-back medicine program launched Jan. 17, 2016 with more than 95 drop-boxes located throughout King County. Over 26 law enforcement offices are participating in the Secure Medicine Return Program.

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

The Primary Prevention Workgroup promoted National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day (April 29 and Oct. 28 in 2017) to service providers, Task Force members and the community via email and social media.

Best Starts for Kids investments to help children and youth thrive

Best Starts for Kids (BSK) is expanding school-based behavioral health support to more middle schools in King County. In September 2017, BSK awarded $530,000 in funding to 56 schools in 13 King County school districts to create a plan to bring Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) to middle schools. The initial award supports training and technical assistance to create an SBIRT implementation plan. In early 2018, schools that complete a plan will be invited to apply for BSK funds to provide SBIRT services to students.

Treatment Expansion and Enhancement

The King County Needle Exchange's Bupe Pathways

The Public Health — Seattle & King County Downtown Needle Exchange implemented Bupe Pathways, a low-barrier buprenorphine service in January 2017. Demand has been very high for this service and the program is often full.

State grant to implement "Hub and Spoke" medication-assisted treatment model of care

Two King County organizations - Harborview Medical Center and Valley Cities Behavioral Health - received grants from the state Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery to develop and implement a "Hub and Spoke" medication-assisted treatment model of care. This model allows for a referral and care management network between community agencies and an agency that provides medication.

MIDD funding to expand access to buprenorphine

King County is developing contracts with five organizations interested in delivering and/or facilitating system-wide access to low-barrier buprenorphine treatment in the county. Over $550,000 in MIDD funding will be contracted out in 2018 to support several potential buprenorphine expansion opportunities.

Opioid Medicaid Demonstration Project

King County cooperated with many organizations to develop an Opioid Medicaid Demonstration project proposal that was presented to the King County Accountable Community of Health in November 2017.

Recovery Centers - detox and residential facilities

Recovery Place Seattle at Beacon Hill, operated by Valley Cities Behavioral Health Care, opened in October 2017. The facility offers 33 detox beds and 42 intensive inpatient treatment beds with co-occuring capacity. Recovery Place Kent is fully funded and will open in April 2018.

Collaboration with Seattle Indian Health Board

King County is working with the Seattle Indian Health Board (SIHB) to connect individuals with opioid use disorder being released from incarceration to the SIHB for buprenorphine services, and to expedite service delivery to reduce overdose following release to the community.

Workgroup to explore buprenorphine expansion in King County jails

A workgroup is being formed to explore the expansion of buprenorphine treatment in the King County jail system.

Exploring treatment options for youth

Task Force members are exploring options for expansion of medication-assisted treatment for youth in the county.
Steps have been taken to develop a plan to address the substance use disorder treatment workforce shortage and to support achievement of treatment on demand, timely and meaningful follow-up, and engagement of individuals seeking treatment.

Licenses to prescribe buprenorphine

Federal legislation passed that will permit nurse practitioners (ARNPs) and physician assistants (PAs) to obtain X licenses to prescribe buprenorphine. Access to X licenses is expected within the next few months and BHO-contracted agencies with medical staff have been notified that this expansion is imminent.

Funding for free buprenorphine waiver training

King County has set aside funds to provide free buprenorphine waiver training to physicians working in the county.

Addiction medicine fellowship at UW

The University of Washington (UW) is creating an addiction medicine fellowship for primary care physician trainees and more UW psychiatry residents are requesting X license training.

New state law supports task force recommendations

On May 16, 2017, Gov. Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1427, enacting several recommendations from the Task Force. The bill streamlines siting and regulations of opioid treatment programs and expands use of the prescription drug monitoring program to allow local officials to access the information of prescribers — actions that will help connect people to treatment and help providers prescribe appropriately and safely.

User Health Services and Overdose Prevention

Over 1500 naloxone kits distributed

The King County Department of Community and Human Services has distributed over 1500 naloxone kits to behavioral health providers, Harborview Medical Center staff members and supportive housing organizations throughout the county in both 2016 and 2017.

Seattle Police Department Bike Patrol officers are now carrying and administering naloxone.

Through a generous grant from the Marah project, this program is being fully evaluated by the University of Washington Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute to determine the overall efficacy.

Advocacy and education

King County is advocating that contracted behavioral health and social service agencies provide naloxone to relevant staff. King County is providing education on the administration of naloxone, holding training sessions biannually for providers. We are urging residential providers to dispense naloxone to patients upon discharge and to include medication-assisted treatment options for patients while residing in care.

Document Library

Report: 2016 Drug Use Trends in King County, Washington

Infographic: Heroin and Opioid Trends in King County

Continuum of Care for Opioid Misuse, University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute (April 2016)

WA State Interagency Opioid Working Plan (Jan. 2016)

Heroin Task Force Report, Public Health-Seattle & King County (Aug. 2001)

Drug Abuse Trends in the Seattle-King County Area: 2014

Opiate Overdose Education

“Where the Rubber Hits the Road”: Seattle Launches Heroin Task Force

King County Board of Health endorsement - Jan. 19, 2017

King County Board of Health meeting - Oct. 20, 2016

Seattle City Council briefing - Oct. 3, 2016

Naloxone Program

Heroin & Opioid Addiction Task Force Recommendations - Sept. 15, 2016 press conference

Friday, February 22, 2019   Agenda  

Wednesday, June 20, 2018  Agenda   

January 2018  

Tuesday, November 21, 2017  Agenda

Thursday, May 25, 2017  Agenda

Friday, January 27, 2017  Agenda 

Friday, March 25, 2016   Agenda  Meeting Summary

  • PowerPoint   

Friday, April 22, 2016      Agenda    Meeting Summary

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - Community Conversation on Heroin and Opiate Addiction

Friday, June 3, 2016    Agenda    Meeting Summary

Friday, July 29, 2016, 1-4 p.m., Seattle City Hall, Bertha K. Landis Room

Friday, Aug, 26, 2016 (cancelled)

Friday, Sept. 9, 2016, ​1-4 p.m., Seattle City Hall, Bertha K. Landis Room  Agenda

Contact Us

Phone 206-263-9000

TTY Relay: 711

Fax: 206-296-0583