Curbing the opioid epidemic in Washington

Wednesday, May 15, 2019


Every day, an average of two Washington residents die from an opioid-related overdose. The Washington Legislature passed a bill (Senate Bill 5380) addressing the opioid epidemic by expanding treatment, prevention, and services for people affected by opioid use disorder and their families.

Picture of Washington State Capitol building

Key takeaways to be implemented:

  • Opioid use disorder will be recognized as a chronic medical condition to be treated using evidence-based treatment, such as medication-assisted treatment.

  • The Secretary of Health will issue a standing order allowing agencies to possess, store, deliver, distribute, or administer naloxone.*
  • Emergency Departments will be allowed to distribute emergency prepacks of naloxone.
  • The Department of Health will establish a statewide Emergency Medical Services data system and provide data identifying individuals at risk of a fatal overdose and connect them to treatment services.
  • The Department of Health is expanding efforts to integrate the Prescription Monitoring Program with electronic health records — and require prescribers to use integrated systems.
  • We will support policies and treatment for pregnant and parenting people while keeping families together.
  • Therapeutic courts and law enforcement assisted diversion programs will support medication-assisted treatment for incarcerated people.

The opioid crisis is negatively impacting the health of so many in Washington and requires a comprehensive action plan. The legislation has taken an all-encompassing approach, providing and advising key health agencies to make opioid concerns a statewide priority. This bill represents a positive step towards curbing the opioid epidemic.

*Naloxone is a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent overdose by opioids. It blocks opioid receptor sites, reversing the toxic effects of the overdose.