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A Note From the Director


On November 5th we announced with the Health Care Authority the Regional Service Areas that have been designated for Medicaid purchasing beginning in 2016.  This is an important step in the process to fully integrate our health care delivery system with community services, social services and public health.


November also brings the beginning of the holiday season. For those who will be hosting celebrations with friends and family, Mother's Against Drunk Driving offers an online Safe Party Guide.  When children and teens are present, celebrations are also a great opportunity to model how to have fun without alcohol or other drugs. 


On behalf of the Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery, we wish you happy and safe holidays.


- Chris Imhoff, DBHR Director

Public comments will be accepted until December 3, 2014, with a public hearing at the WSLCB during the regularly scheduled Board Meeting at 10:00 a.m. You can find the proposed r14-31 Revisions to Marijuana Rules on the WSLCB website at this link. If you are interested in the rules regarding edibles, those are located in section 314.55.077. Comments may be sent to rules@lcb.wa.gov.

Visit the state Department of Health's website for new resources related to Ebola.

The 30th State Prevention Summit was held in Yakima October 19-21, and was attended by 650 youth and prevention professionals.  Fran Harding, Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, gave a keynot presentation on Charting New Directions - Substance Abuse Prevention and Health Reform.  

Nine awardees received recognition for their exemplary prevention work.  Read more at http://preventionsummit.org/adult-schedule/.  

Governor Inslee recently emailed a letter  to all state employees about the risks of marijuana use for children and teens. His letter included links to prevention resources for parents and other caregivers, with tips for encouraging kids to make healthy choices. 

The Washington Poison Center is reminding parents to lock up any marijuana products in the home to avoid accidental poisonings among children.  Read their announcement about the increase in calls about accidental poisonings from marijuana edibles, and their new FAQ and fact sheet about edibles.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration addresses Building the Behavioral Health Workforce in its Fall issue.

See Assistant Secretary Jane Beyer's letter to stakeholders on Sept. 18, 2014.

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.

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 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 ....


Seven Washington communities receive Drug Free Communities Grants:  Kent, Longview, Long Beach, Tacoma, Toppenish, Stevenson and Vancouver.  Read more at: http://www.ondcp.gov/dfc/.


  • 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.