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Opioids Media Campaign Targets Young People In Washington

Washington State Health Care Authority

The opioid crisis is hitting people in all age groups. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports the highest number of opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2018 occurred in the 25-to-34 age group. But the other age demographics weren’t far behind.

The fewest number of deaths came in the zero-to-24 category. But that group is the target audience for a Washington media campaign aimed at steering young people away from opioids.

“Opioids are now one of the leading causes of injury-related deaths in Washington state. More people die from overdoses than from car crashes," is one of the messages from a video produced for the Starts with One campaign, administered by the Washington State Health Care Authority. Its goal is to get people talking about opioids and how to avoid them getting into the wrong hands.

“Older adults having more medication on hand at any given time, blood pressure medication, diabetes medication and the young adults that may have access to that. It’s educating all the generations with the targeted objective of reducing youth opioid use," said Elysia Spencer, the coalition coordinator for the Shadle Prevention and Wellness Coalition in Spokane.

The campaign also focuses on the safe disposal of prescription drugs.

“There are a lot of people that still assume that if you have expired prescription medication you should flush them down the toilet. Especially living in our region above the Spokane aquifer, that is something that we want to remind people, again and again, please do not flush your prescription medication," Spencer said.

There are several pharmacies and law enforcement agencies in Spokane County where you can take your expired medications for safe disposal. You can find a list of those at

Spencer says the Starts with One campaign is effective for young people because of its age-appropriate messages.

“Especially pre-teens and teens when they think they’re invincible and they can do anything," she said. "What are some straightforward facts that you can give a youth to counteract some of that peer pressure or online pressure that this is fine and acceptable.”

You can find those messages at