Breaking down the numbers: Opioid overdoses and deaths


Over the years, opioid prescription abuse and addiction have become an increasingly complex and devastating public health crisis for medical providers, law enforcement and the public.

As of 2017, the number of prescription overdoses and deaths remain alarmingly high for both California and Shasta County.

In fact, Shasta County Health and Human Services says 24 people died from a prescription opioid related death in Shasta County in 2017.

However, that's just a small fraction of the 2,196 Californians who died from opioid overdoses and 429 who died from Fentanyl overdoses across the state in the same year.

According to the California Opioid Surveillance Dashboard, doctors signed-off on nearly 22 million opioid prescriptions in California in 2017.

Nearly 220,000 of those within Shasta County.

Data also shows an alarming number of those overdoses happened in the Bella Vista, Milleville and Oak Run areas.

In addition,the average age for an opioid overdose death is 30 to 34 years old.

Greg Hartt , the Medical Director of Emergency Medicine at Mercy Medical Center says they see opioid overdoses regularly.

"It's not a new problem. but certainly over the past ten years I think there's been an uptick in the number of overdoses that we see and people who are probably inappropriately on these medications long term," said Dr. Hartt.

Unfortunately, he says there just aren't that many places people can turn for help.

"Right now there really is a lack of good access for people who need extra assistance or help with their addictions."

That's why, starting in February, the NoRXAbuse Coalition is trying to prevent opioid addiction and overdoses in Shasta County with the "Your pain is real. So are the risks" campaign, focused on creating opioid prescription abuse and addiction awareness.

The campaign encourages patients to talk with their doctors and pharmacists about safer pain management options.

In addition, it also encourages safe prescribing practices, addiction treatment, access to Naloxone, medication disposal, and alternative pain management.

Through the efforts of NoRXAbuse Coalition, state and community partners, they say they've already seen a 25.8% decrease in opioid prescriptions in the last two years.

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