During his rally in Everett, Donald Trump gave a shout-out to the heroin epidemic that many communities in the Pacific Northwest are experiencing.
“The Seattle area recently experienced the largest number of heroin-related deaths, think of it, in 20 years,” Trump told the thousands in Xfinity Arena. “The largest number in 20 years. It’s getting worse. It’s getting horrific.”
That statement wasn’t wrong. In King County, heroin overdoses tripled between 2009 and 2014. People seeking treatment for heroin have increased by 34 percent over the past several years.
Ditto for Snohomish County, where nearly 45 percent of the 300 unintentional deaths per year are from unintentional poisoning; the primary cause being prescription opioids and heroin. After 2010, the county began experiencing much higher death rates than was normal for the state, according to a 2015 report. More than 400 people died of opioid-related overdoses in the county between 2011 and 2014.
But Trump didn’t stop with simply stating the facts that anyone can look up online.
“And it’s not only heroin, they have drugs now pouring across the border that most people have not even heard of,” Trump said. “We have to stop the drugs from poisoning our youth and poisoning our community.”
While it’s true drugs are probably coming across a border — which border he didn’t specify — it only tells a piece of the story and places the blame outside of the United States. But there are plenty of problems within the country as well.
Take Snohomish County’s opioid epidemic as an example. Harriet Ryan and other LA Times reporters drew a direct line of accountability between the drug maker of OxyContin to illegal abuse that helped spawn the epidemic. The opioid was being sold by clinics at an extraordinary rate, but the drug maker chose to ignore that fact for years.
The Times discovered that the pills were being purchased from at least one phony clinic. Those pills, which were being made in the U.S., would then be transported up to Everett and then dispersed to surrounding communities.
Those pills were, until 2010, considered by many to be equal to, or better than heroin. However, changes in how the pill was made prevented them from being as mistreated. That’s why people, including those in western Washington, switched to heroin, Ryan explained.
Maybe instead of building a wall between countries, Trump needs to build one between states.