Meth overdoses in Seattle have skyrocketed in recent years, and some city officials have proposed an incentive program to help those addicted get sober.
“In Seattle, we estimate that nearly 3,800 people ages 18 and over suffer from methamphetamine use disorder, based on 2020 data. Recent survey data suggest that a significant number of these individuals might be interested in treatment to reduce or stop their methamphetamine use, especially if the treatment is easy to get,” a recent report from Seattle Auditor’s Office states, according to MyNorthWest.
King County, where Seattle is located, reported 98 meth-involved deaths in 2016, which ballooned to 365 deaths in 2021, the audit found. There have already been 318 meth-involved deaths as of Oct. 6 of this year, KIRO 7 reported.
Seattle City Council members Andrew Lewis and Lisa Herbold requested the audit and proposed a “contingency management” program that could assist people who want to recover from the drug use.
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The plan would offer gift cards or vouchers to those enrolled in a 12-week intervention program to stop using methamphetamine.
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The participants would meet with program leaders twice a week and submit a urine test – if the test comes back clean, participants would receive a gift card. The value of the gift card or voucher would increase each time a test comes back negative for drug use.
Participants would receive a total of about $300 if they successfully complete the treatment, KIRO 7 reported.
If a test comes back positive for drugs during the program, the next reward would go back to the starting amount for the gift cards, KIRO 7 reported.
The audit found that meth was involved in 74% of overdose deaths among the homeless in the area.
“King County’s DCHS Behavioral Health and Recovery Division received approval last year to use MIDD funding for a contingency management pilot project. A significant number of individuals who struggle with opioid use disorder, also struggle simultaneously with stimulant use disorder, primarily methamphetamine,” Herbold told Fox News Digital Wednesday when approached for comment on the proposal.
“Research has shown that using an evidence-based approach such as contingency management has proven effective outcomes by way of positive reinforcement, especially for those who abuse stimulants. This pilot project seeks to target individuals who meet diagnostic criteria for both disorders,” the statement continued.
Herbold added that she joined Lewis in requesting the city auditor to report on meth use to “to highlight how the responsibility, primarily Washington State’s and King County’s, is not meeting the need.”
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The proposal comes after California officials announced last year they were also looking into whether a “contingency management” program would be a viable avenue to help combat skyrocketing drug use in some areas of the state.
“I think there is a lot in this strategy for everyone to like,” said state Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco and author of the bill, said at the time. “Most important of all, it works.”
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed the bill last October, according to a press statement released by Wiener at the time.