Washington State Department of Social and Health Services Home page

DBHR eNews

October 2014

Director's Note

By Chris Imhoff


Celebrate National Substance Abuse Prevention Month: Prevent, Achieve, Succeed!

October is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, a campaign to raise awareness of the role  prevention plays in promoting safe and healthy communities. So how does prevention work in Washington?

Research shows that prevention works to help young people stay healthy, safe and reach their full potential.  Prevention also works to reduce serious injuries and deaths. Preventing underage drinking has been a statewide priority for the last decade, and nearly 11,000 fewer students used alcohol between 2010 and 2012, according to results from the 2012 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey.

The Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery supports several statewide initiatives, as well as 52 prevention coalitions throughout the state which participate in the Community Prevention and Wellness Initiative. These coalitions work with schools and other partners to implement evidence-based strategies and programs to meet the needs of their communities. Some examples of how these coalitions are making a difference include:

  • Othello recently passed a Social Host Ordinance to discourage teen drinking parties.
  • The Moses Lake coalition worked with their county health district to adopt an ordinance regulating e-cigarettes
  • The WellSpring Coalition in Long Beach organizes prescription drug take-back events and  parenting education programs, and has seen alcohol use among 10th graders in their county drop from 25% to 18% between 2010 and 2012.

More information about DSHS-funded prevention services is available on our Substance Use Prevention and Mental Health Promotion webpage.

Through our combined efforts, I am proud to say the majority of students in Washington do not use alcohol, marijuana or other drugs. However, our young people are influenced by the many messages they see and hear that promote alcohol and marijuana use. Parents are the primary influence on their children, and can  prevent unhealthy behaviors by staying connected, monitoring their activities, and having clear rules against alcohol and other drug use. 

Because mariuana use is now legal for adults 21 and older in Washington, and fewer teens are seeing marijuana use as risky, state and community prevention organizations are stepping up efforts to prevent underage use of marijuana. This month Governor Inslee is sharing the Parent's Guide to Preventing Underage Marijuana Use with all state employees. The Guide, and other prevention tips for parents, is available at www.StartTalkingNow.org.  

I encourage you to review these resources, share them with others, and consider how you can help make your community a healthier place for kids.  

The Partnership at Drugfree.org, in conjunction with Major League Baseball Charities, invites you to nominate extraordinary youth sports coaches and student athletes. Maybe they have inspired others to give it their all, made the team smile after a defeat or shown exemplary character and integrity both on and off the field. You tell us. Click here to submit a nomination.

Out of Reach" is a documentary created by a teen filmmaker who captures the issue of teen prescription drug abuse as it exists in his world.

October is National Medicine Medicine Abuse Awareness Month - Participate in the CADCA 50 Challenge.

CBS news is launching an awareness campaign starting Oct. 6th to promote recovery from addiction.  It's called 14 Days on the Wagon (which is what they are challenging everyone do to).   They are providing encouragement, links to resources, and support online for those who may find it hard to do the challenge, and a page for people to share their experiences.  

For more information:


National Drug Facts Week, which brings together teens and scientific experts to shatter persistent myths about drug use and addiction, will be held Jan. 26 through Feb. 1, 2015.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy has announced the 2014 Drug Free Communities (DFC) continuation, mentoring, and new grantees. Congratulations to the 24 Washington State DFC grantees that have been awarded ongoing funding. Additionally Washington State has been awarded seven new DFC grants, five of whom are six year grantees. The Washington grantees are: 

Fiscal Agent




City of Kent

Kent Drug Free Coalition



Pacific County Dept. of Public Health and Human Services

Wellspring Community Network

Long Beach


Toutle River Ranch

Longview Anti-Drug Coalition



Franklin-Pierce School District

Franklin-Pierce Youth First!



Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation

Yakama Wellness Coalition



Skamania County Sheriff’s Dept.

One Prevention Alliance



Clark County

Prevent Together: Battle Ground Prevention Alliance




Information about the DFC program and Drug Free Communities grantees can be accessed at

http://www.ondcp.gov/dfc/.  Again, our congratulations to all DFC grantees on your hard work, successful applications, and the increased opportunity to create positive community-wide change preventing and reducing substance abuse.  There have now been a total of  31 DFC awards in WA State for new and continuation awards.

The state Department of Social and Health Services has received approval from Gov. Jay Inslee to spend up to $30 million to purchase mental health treatment services for some of the 200 patients involuntarily detained outside of certified evaluation and treatment facilities due to overcrowding.  Read more ....

The DSHS Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR) has partnered with state and community organizations to reach parents, caregivers, and youth with information about the risks of underage marijuana use, and the new laws.  As part of our ongoing support of preventing teen substance use, we have created a Toolkit for Preventing Underage Marijuana Use, with information about the risks, and ways to help teens make healthy choices. The Toolkit includes instructions for ordering free copies of the parent guide and a 502 information card for your community.  


The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has announced it will reclassify hydrocodone combination products such as Vicodin. Under the new rules, patients will be able to receive the drugs for only up to 90 days without receiving a new prescription, The Wall Street Journal reports.


  • Governor Inslee Announces Health and Safety Measures Prior to Marijuana Stores Opening:  Read the announcement
  • SAMHSA has designed an app to meet the needs of disaster responders.  It was developed with input from experts from across the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the American Red Cross, and state health departments.  The app is available for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry users.  Read more...

  • From Coverage to Care is a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services initiative to help people with new health care coverage understand their benefits and connect to primary care and the preventive services that are right for them. Read more...

  • The number of retailers in Washington illegally selling tobacco to minors is high for the second year in a row. An annual report that tracks illegal sales shows about 15 percent of tobacco retailers sold tobacco to minors in 2013 — that’s about the same as it was in 2012. As recently as 2009 the rate was much lower, at about 9 percent.  Read more...

  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced a new Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) for preventing alcohol-exposed pregnancies, and recognizes the unique needs of individuals in treatment who may have been exposed to alcohol before birth. Read more...


  • Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Tuesday that the makers of the flavored alcoholic beverage Four Loko have agreed not to market their alcoholic drinks to young adults.  Ferguson was one of 20 state attorneys general who accused Phusion Products of advertising to the underage.  The agreement prohibits the company from promoting binge drinking and from advertising on college campuses.  Phusion has also agreed to stop producing drinks that combine alcohol and caffeine. Four Loko originally contained both alcohol and caffeine, but the company removed caffeine from the formula after Washington state banned the drink in 2010. That ban came after nine Central Washington University students became ill after drinking Four Loko at a party.  Read more ...
  • FDA Approves Hand Held Injector to Reverse Opioid Overdose.  Opioid overdose deaths, driven largely by prescription drug overdose deaths, are now the leading cause of injury death in the United States - surpassing motor vehicle crashes. In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the number of drug overdose deaths had steadily increased for more than a decade.  Read more: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders


  • Educational Resources for Mental Health Month:  According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about one in five American adults experienced a mental illness in 2012.  Unfortunately, less than half received any mental health services.  The top three reasons given for not receiving help:  they could not afford the cost, they thought they could handle the problem without treatment, or they did not know where to go for services.  To help increase understanding about mental health conditions, and treatment and recovery resources, SAMHSA has developed a planning guide for Community Conversations about Mental Health in English and Spanish.
  • Another opportunity to educate families and other community members is Children's Mental Health Awareness Day, May 8th.  DBHR staff will participate in a program on La Nueva Radio to raise awareness about mental health conditions and how to access services. 
  • National Prevention Week is May 18-24.  National Prevention Week is a SAMHSA-supported annual health observance dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues. SAMHSA provides planning tips and tools  to help you organize a prevention-focused event in your community.
  • 2014 Legislative Session Overview.  When the 2014 session adjourned on March 13, DBHR staff had analyzed 215 proposed bills related to behavioral health services and issues. Here is a summary  of behavioral-health legislation that passed.April: 
  • The first meeting of the Adult Behavioral Health System Task Force (2SSB 6312) was April 22.  For details and to sign up for notices of future meetings visit http://www.leg.wa.gov/jointcommittees/ABHS/Pages/default.aspx


In response to the recent legalization of recreational marijuana, The Colorado Department of Transportaion  launched a new education campaign on marijuana impaired driving. Click here for campaign materials.


Washington's Attorney General Confirms Cities Can Ban Marijuana Businesses. Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has issued a Formal Opinion indicating that cities and counties can formally or effectively ban a marijuana business from their jurisdiction.  The state Liquor Control Board is not yet sure how this opinion will change the implementation of Initiative 502.  For future updates on I-502, vist www.liq.wa.gov.


  • Fewer people in Washington died from prescription pain medication overdoses between 2008 and 2012, after an eightfold increase in the last decade. The overdose death rate dropped by 27 percent and the number of deaths went from 512 in 2008 to 388 in 2012; this was tempered by an increase in heroin deaths, which rose from 146 in 2008 to 231 in 2012.  Read more...
  • SAMHSA’s newly-released publication, Behavioral Health, United States, 2012, the latest in a series of publications issued by SAMHSA biannually since 1980, provides in-depth information regarding the current status of the mental health and substance abuse field. It includes behavioral health statistics at the national and State levels from 40 different data sources.
  • Two new publications, A Parent's Guide to Preventing Marijuana Use, and Marijuana: Know the Facts, are available at www.learnaboutmarijuanawa.org.  These and other resources will help you join the conversation that teens are already having, and be a source of accurate information


SAMHSA recently launched Start the Talk, an interactive, online simulation tool that helps parents and caregivers of children ages 9 to 15 practice tough conversations about alcohol.