Week-long survey shows increase in opioid overdoses compared to 2017

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Opioid overdoses are up compared to last year, according to a seven-day survey by the Snohomish Health District.

The district, in partnership with the Snohomish County Opioid Response Multi-Agency Coordination group, completed the seven-day survey from July 9-15. In that time, 57 opioid overdoses were recorded, two of which were fatal. Forty were saved using naloxone. About one-third of new bookings by the Correction’s Bureau within the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office were inmates under opioid withdrawal watches.

The Snohomish Health District notes that the information gathered during this survey was voluntary, and so should not be regarded as exhaustive.

This is the second week-long point-in-time survey of opioid overdoses conducted by the Snohomish Health District. The first was completed last year. These annual surveys provide needed information to local groups. The second survey was conducted to build a more robust data pipeline, according to the Snohomish Health District.

The numbers collected this year are nearly double those collected last year–though there may be several contributing factors than just an increase in overdoses.

Factors listed by the Snohomish Health District include that there were more partners involved with the survey this year, which makes it easier to gather information.

Also, since fewer opioid prescriptions are being given, it’s possible that more people who are addicted are using heroin. At least 61 percent of the 57 people who overdosed during the 2018 survey were using heroin, the Snohomish Health District said.

Additionally, fentanyl use is on the rise in the area. Fentanyl is up to 100 times deadlier than heroin or prescription medications. At least one of the reported overdoses was the result of counterfeit “Perc-30” pills laced with fentanyl.

Other key takeaways from the data analysis:

  • Overdoses were mostly men, with 34 males and 20 females and three cases where gender was not recorded.
  • The youngest reported was 17 and the oldest was 73, with 21 of the overdoses being 21-30 years old.
  • When looking at race and ethnicity, 77 percent were identified as white.
  • Naloxone was administered in 72 percent of the reports, saving 40 lives.
  • Nearly one-third of the overdoses occurred between noon and 6 p.m.
  • Of the 57 overdoses, 13 percent did not have 911 called in response to their medical emergency.

Before these surveys, the only information available to local groups was opioid deaths, and that information could take over a year to confirm and finalize. This survey helps interested groups understand what is happening now with opioids in the county.

Information for the survey was collected from hospitals, law enforcement, fire and EMS services, needle exchange programs and other partners.

To read the full report, click here. To read last year’s report, click here.

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