Working for a safe, affordable, vibrant, innovative, and interconnected city.
Learn More
I want to search within the following: This Department
Seattle Human Services Seattle Human Services Home Page Seattle Human Services - About Us Seattle Human Services - Contact Us
Connecting people with resources and solutions in times of need Catherine Lester, Director
Outcomes & Accountability Funding Opportunities Initiatives Partners & Other Resources Jobs Site Map

Services & Programs
Services and Programs
Children & Families
Community Development Block Grant
Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Prevention
Emergency Services & Ending Homelessness
Public Assistance / Benefits
Food & Health
Food Programs & Services
Public Health Initiatives & Funding
Healthy Communities Initiatives
Public Health Indicators
Public Health Programs & Services
Immigrants & Refugees
Seniors & Adults with Disabilities
Youth Services

Public Health Initiatives and Funding

Substance Abuse

Active drug and alcohol abuse within a community results in loss of job productivity, transmission of illness through intravenous drug use, drug-related crimes, incarceration, homelessness and more. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says substance abuse prevention and treatment programs are substantially less expensive than the social and economic costs of active alcohol and drug abuse.

For this reason and for the health of our residents, the City of Seattle invests in substance abuse prevention and treatment services:

  • Chemical Dependency Interventions
  • Emergency Services Patrol
  • Methadone Treatment
  • Needle Exchange Program
  • Youth Engagement Program
  • Multisystemic Therapy Program

Chemical Dependency Interventions

Chemical Dependency Interventions, managed by the King County Department of Community and Human Services, help people who are in crisis with their chemical dependency. Approximately 600 Seattle residents are treated for chemical dependency problems and related behavioral crises each year at Harborview Medical Center.

On-site chemical dependency screening and assessment address the crisis and refer patients to chemical dependency treatment. Services include detoxification, next-day appointments for treatment, and case management especially for those individuals identified as the highest users of Harborviews Psychiatric Emergency Services.

Emergency Services Patrol

The Emergency Services Patrol, managed by the King County Department of Community and Human Services, responds to 911 dispatch calls regarding chronic public inebriates or incapacitated individuals on the streets of Seattle who are in crisis. Emergency Services Patrol members provide direct assistance, assessment and transportation, and therefore allow police and fire personnel to respond to other 911 crisis calls and emergencies.

Intoxicated individuals are transported to the Dutch Shisler Sobering Center, Harborview Medical Center or another place where they are screened medically, remain sheltered and safe until they are no longer intoxicated, and provided information about other local services.

Methadone Treatment

Methadone treatment significantly reduces illicit opiate drug use and illness and death from drug use and crime. Methadone treatment allows patients to manage their lives during their recovery from chemical addiction.

Needle Exchange Program

The Robert Clewis Center-Needle Exchange Program safely exchanges used syringes for sterile syringes to decrease the transmission of HIV, hepatitis or other blood-borne diseases among people who inject drugs. It also provides wound care and refers active intravenous drug users in Seattle to the Methadone Treatment Program.

Seattle has maintained a very low rate of HIV transmission among intravenous drug users 2 to 5 percent as compared with the 15 to 50 percent in U.S. cities with no needle exchange programs. This in turn has resulted in relatively low prevalence of HIV among heterosexuals.

Youth Engagement Program

The Youth Engagement Program, managed by the King County Department of Community and Human Services, provides outreach and services to youth involved with substance use and the juvenile justice system, or who are at high-risk of such involvement. It helps youth succeed in school and work, fulfill their legal obligations and decrease their drug and alcohol use. The program focuses on youth of color in an effort to address the disproportional number of youth of color who are involved in the juvenile justice system.

Services include outreach to adolescents to provide case management, chemical dependency treatment, prevention education, and referrals to other supportive services.

Multisystemic Therapy Program

Multysystemic Therapy (MST) is an intensive family based treatment that address the factors in the youths environment that are contributing to his or her behavior problems. Treatment goals are developed in collaboration with the family and family strengths are used as levers for therapeutic change.

2011 Funded Agencies and Programs

The City of Seattle allocates General Funds for substance abuse programs to Public Health Seattle & King County, and King County Department of Community and Human Services the agencies responsible for overseeing these programs. We fund:

  • Chemical Dependency Interventions $119,020
  • Emergency Services Patrol $542,116
  • Methadone Treatment $526,073
  • Multisystemic Therapy Program $86,100
  • Needle Exchange Program $417,648
  • Youth Engagement Program $177,863


For more information about these programs, contact:


Seattle Human Services Department
Street address: 700 5th Avenue, Suite 5800, Seattle, WA 98104
Mailing address: PO Box 34215, Seattle, WA 98124-4215

Phone: 206-386-1001
Fax: 206-233-5119
TTY/TTD: 206-233-2778

Accommodations for people with disabilities provided upon request.