27 opioid overdoses, 2 deaths in one week in July

None were reported in Mukilteo
By Brandon Gustafson | Sep 11, 2019

Twenty-seven people in Snohomish County overdosed because of opioids during one week in July. Of those 27 overdoses, two were fatal.

The information comes from the third annual seven-day point-in-time count done by the Snohomish Health District and the Snohomish County Opioid Response Multi-Agency Coordination (MAC) Group.

The first point-in-time effort was two summers ago. Prior to that count, the only primary data about the effect of opioids in Snohomish County was the total number of deaths, which could take between 12 and 18 months to get those numbers.

In order to better analyze and respond to what has been described both county and statewide as an opioid epidemic, the Snohomish Health District aimed to gather data as close to real time as possible.

The point-in-time count brings together partners and volunteers to capture a snapshot of what opioid abuse looks like in the county. Hospitals, law enforcement, fire, EMS, the syringe exchange, and other partners voluntarily collected data on overdoses for one week.

Some potentially good news from the study: The number of overdoses in the one week study were less than in both 2017 and 2018. In 2017, there were 37 overdoses and that number increased to 57. The two deaths reported in this year’s count matched 2018’s.

None of the reported overdoses occurred in Mukilteo, and none of those who overdosed considered Mukilteo as their place of residence.

In nearly three-quarters of the reported overdoses, the person received the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone, also known as Narcan, per a news release from the Health District.

Police officers or EMS officials administered naloxone to 12 patients, and eight others were given naloxone by a friend, family member, or bystander.

Under a new law from the Washington State Health Officer, any person in the state can purchase naloxone from a pharmacy.

Most of the overdoses were reportedly linked to heroin. In some cases, the heroin was used with other substances such as methamphetamine, alcohol, prescription opioids or benzodiazepine, per the Health District.

 

Numbers and accessibility

 

Of the 27 people who overdosed, 17 obtained the drug or drugs on the street.

This year’s point-in-time tally also included the youngest overdose patient of the three counts, a 15-year-old, the Health District said. The oldest person who overdosed that week was 66. More than half of the people in the reported overdoses were in their 20s and 30s.

Efforts over the past few years to reduce the number of prescriptions for opioids and to encourage people to properly store and dispose of their medications have been well received by medical providers and the public, the Health District said.

But, the Health District said that reducing the accessibility of prescription opioids may result in them turning to heroin.

Other key takeaways from the data analysis:

 

  • Slightly more men overdosed than women, with 14 men compared to 10 women.
  • When looking at race and ethnicity, about two-thirds of the people who overdosed were identified as white.
  • The most common location for reported overdoses was a private residence.
  • Five of the people who overdosed – 18.5 percent of the total – were reported homeless.
  • Nearly one-third of the overdoses occurred between noon and 6 p.m.
  • More than half of the people who overdosed did not have 911 called in response to their medical emergency.

 

In addition to overdose data received from local partners, information was collected by the Corrections Bureau within the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, which showed that just under 30 percent of new bookings during that seven-day period were inmates under opioid withdrawal watches.

 

Fentanyl

 

Fentanyl, which is a synthetic opioid up to 100 times more lethal than prescription opioids or heroin, is a growing concern, the Health District reports.

Fentanyl has been found mixed into other substances, including pills sold on the street as prescription opioids.

Tracking fentanyl-related overdoses during the seven-day period was not feasible, but data from the Washington State Department of Health indicates deaths from synthetic opioids like fentanyl are on the rise in the county.

Per the Health District, preliminary data from 2018 shows 55 deaths were related to synthetic opioids, a 111 percent increase from 2017.

The number of fentanyl cases being investigated by the Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force has also been steadily increasing.

For more information on efforts being done through the Opioid Response MAC Group, visit www.snohomishoverdoseprevention.com.

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