North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Survey shows increase in opioid overdoses


August 8, 2018 | View PDF

Graphic Courtesy of the Snohomish Health District

During the 7-day period of July 9-15, 2018, 52 overdoses that appeared to be related to opioids were reported in Snohomish County.

During the Second Annual Point-in-Time survey conducted in Snohomish County during a week in mid-July, law enforcement and medical personnel documented 57 overdoses as the result of opioids. That number is 20 higher than what they recorded over a similar time period in 2017.

"I think it's an underestimate," said Mark Beatty, Health Officer for the Snohomish Health District.

Officials from fire departments, law enforcement, EMS, hospitals, syringe exchange and the medical examiner's officer documented the number of opioid overdoses they witnessed between July 9 and July 15, 2018. Of the 57 overdoses documented, 12 of those took place on July 14.

The survey also found:

n40 overdoses were stopped thanks to receiving Narcan, which reverses overdoses. Of that number, 33 received Narcan from police or EMS and seven received the medicine from a friend, family member or bystander. Seventy-two percent of the reported overdoses received Narcan, also known as Naloxone.

nTwo people died as a result of an opioid overdose.

In 2017, the survey that took place between July 17 and July 23 documented 37 overdoses with highest one-day total of 10 overdoses.

"Clearly this crisis is getting worse," Beatty said. He added conducting the survey allows officials to quickly access how things are going with the opioid crisis.

Locally, the survey conducted last month found that eight overdoses took place in Marysville and four in Arlington.

Marysville Police Department Commander Mark Thomas said in an email the survey provides an "excellent opportunity to get a snapshot of the of the opioid issue county wide." The survey allows law enforcement officials to see data and trends they may otherwise miss if they relied solely on law enforcement statistics.

Beatty said opioids or a problem for big cities and small cities across the board throughout Snohomish County.

Graphic Courtesy of the Snohomish Health District

The Second Annual Point-in-Time Survey held in mid-July found that 40 lives were saves with the use of Naloxone/Narcan in Snohomish County.

The survey documented at least one opioid overdose in 13 municipalities throughout the county. Of that amount, 33 percent of the people who overdosed were homeless.

He stressed that opioid addiction isn't the result of a moral fault or personality flaw, it's a disease. Four of five people who become addicted to opioids started when they were legally prescribed medication from their doctor.

"It affects all walks of life," Beatty said.

In addition to opioids, Thomas said officials are also noting an increase in methamphetamine overdoses. Officers are seeing it in the search warrants they serve, suspects they arrest and family members they talk to.

"Meth is making a comeback," Thomas said in an email. "Our enforcement and pro-active approach to law enforcement must reflect this trend and target those dealers who are bringing this drug back into our community."


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