Addictions, Drug & Alcohol Institute

ADAI In the News: A Round-Up of Stories on Xylazine, Fentanyl, Meth Overdose, “Health Hubs,” and More!


ADAI faculty and staff have been featured in a lot of news articles and other media lately. Here’s a round-up of some of the pieces and podcasts. (Want to be the first to know when ADAI folks are in the media? Follow us on X/Twitter!)

Xylazine or “tranq” in WA: Rising drug threat or an empty one? (WA State Standard, by Grace Deng, August 2, 2023)

Xylazine has had devastating effects in other states but is not yet widespread in Washinton. Some say it’s only a matter of time, others worry it’s a distraction from the fight against fentanyl. ADAI’s Alison Newman says “What I can safely say given the data that we have is xylazine is present in Washington in small numbers compared to other parts of the country.” Harm reduction remains a vitally important way to “help keep people alive.”

Fentanyl: Secondhand smoke not a major health risk (Seattle Times letter to the editor by Scott Phillips, MD and ADAI’s Caleb Banta-Green, PhD, July 28, 2023)

In this response to a recent op-ed in the Seattle Times titled “Jail and treatment can work together in helping WA drug crisis” [July 20], the ed board incorrectly stated that fentanyl “poses major health risks . . . to those who may inadvertently breathe in its smoke.” Drs. Phillips and Banta-Green wrote that “while people have sought health care due to concerns about inadvertent or secondhand exposure to fentanyl, there have been no medically documented cases of fentanyl (a type of opioid) intoxication or overdose resulting from secondhand exposure. […] It’s safe to help someone who appears to be having an opioid overdose from fentanyl …”

Q&A with Dr. Mandy Owens (SAMHSA’s GAINS Center, PRA Inc., July 17, 2023)

In this piece, ADAI’s Dr. Owens was interviewed about her research on improving interactions between law enforcement and people who use drugs, successful implementation of medications for opioid use disorder services in jail settings, and how she supports her own mental health to balance out the trauma and suffering she encounters as part of her work.  

Is WA’s health “hub” model the “secret sauce” in treating fentanyl addiction? (Seattle Times, by Nina Shapiro, July 23, 2023)

Health hubs like Gather Church are meant to be welcoming places where people can get the care and supports they need for their opioid use disorder. ADAI’s Dr. Caleb Banta-Green found that sites like Gather significantly reduced mortality rates. What are these “health hub” sites, what is the “low barrier” model they adhere to, and what are some of the challenges these sites are facing?

Rising number of overdose deaths involve mix of opioids with cocaine, meth (Washington Post, by David Ovalle, July 19, 2023)

The evolving overdose crisis in the U.S. is taking another lethal turn, the CDC reported this month: Increasingly, people dying from opioids are also using stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine. ADAI’s Dr. Banta-Green explains that the demand for methamphetamine is substantial as unhoused users consume it to cope with poverty and even to stay awake at night to avoid being victimized on the streets. In 2008, when 83 people died from meth in Washington State, fewer than 1/3 of cases involved an opioid, according to ADAI’s data. By 2021, meth deaths numbered 1,239 – and more than half involved opioids. “Fentanyl and meth are the dominant illicit drugs now,” Dr. Banta-Green says. “That’s what users are dying from.”

Fentanyl in the Pacific Northwest (Free Culture Radio podcast on KBOO, hosted by Doug McVay, July 19, 2023)

In this episode of Free Culture Radio, ADAI’s Teresa Winstead, PhD, MA, and Alison Newman, MPH talk about their new report, “Unmet Needs, Complex Motivations, and Ideal Care for People Using Fentanyl in Washington State: A Qualitative Study.” NOTE: Teresa and Alison will also be presenting about this report on August 30 from 1:30-2:30pm PT as part of the Washington Poison Center’s 3-day webinar series on Overdose Prevention, Harm Reduction, and Treatment.