Tri-Cities ranks low on deaths by drug overdoses

Tri-Cities ranks low on deaths by drug overdoses »Play Video
TRI-CITIES - Action News is staying on top of the drug war, right here in the Tri-Cities. We discovered Benton and Franklin counties have few fatal drug overdoses compared to the rest of the state. We asked officials if this means we're any safer.

"It started off with pot, then went to cocaine and methamphetamine. That was the kicker. That was the one that rode me over," said former addict Aaron Estavillo.

For Aaron Estavillo, drugs became an escape from reality. His addiction mirrored his father's.

"Self medication. It's just a way to get away from everything in my life. You know, it's a lot of pain, a lot of anguish. It's a long road, a long, hard road," added Estavillo.

Aaron found his way to the Union Gospel Mission three years ago where he started his recovery. He attributes his new life to his faith.

"Now it's been such an amazing change. I'm getting over a lot of stuff, and just trying to make a difference," said Estavillo.

After living the life firsthand, Aaron was glad to see number of drug-related deaths are low here in the Tri-Cities. I looked at the rate of overdoses across each county in Washington. Benton County ranked 26th, with about ten people killed for every 100,000 of the population.
Franklin County ranked even lower at number 29.

Now I asked police if these numbers happen to correlate with drug or criminal activity here in the Tri-Cities. And while these officers agree it's good we rank lower on this list, they say it's just one factor of many in the drug war equation.

Officers say prescription drug use is still on the rise in the Tri-Cities. Appealing for its "cleaner" high. When money for those medications runs dry, addicts often turn to heroin.

"We probably work as well as one agency, our size of the Tri-Cities, because of how well we communicate, how well we share resources, how well we share information."

Recovered addicts like Aaron just hope others see a better way.

"Now, I see that it's allowing me to not only help others, but to help myself," said Estavillo.

Pacific, Skamania and Cowlitz counties topped the list for deaths by drug overdoses.