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Shasta County opioid overdoses and deaths steadily increasing

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The "California Opioid Surveillance Dashboard" is a government-run website that tracks the number of opioid related overdoses and deaths in different counties across the state.

What it shows is that Shasta County had an alarmingly high level of opioid incidents in 2017.

According to the website, there were a total of 24 opioid overdose related deaths in Shasta County in 2017, representing an alarming 44 percent increase for the county since 2015.

In addition, the website also shows most of the deaths occurred in rural areas, outside the Redding city limits.

We spoke with leading addiction medicine physician Dr. Greg Greenberg about the statistics.

He said there factors contributing to the high overdose rates.

"So in Shasta County we have three times California's rate of emergency department visits related to opioids, we have a much higher rate of overdose and death related to opioids," said Addiction Medicine Physician and Emergency Physician at Shasta Regional Medical Center. Dr. Greg Greenberg.

He explained that it is not necessarily the area causing the high rates but the economic standing and childhood experiences of the people who live there.

"When you see people with opioid use disorder, often they have problems economically that are related to it and so they tend to cluster in certain areas that they go to. So it's not necessarily that those areas are causing it, but we know in general that these rural areas that we're seeing that a lot because of adverse childhood experiences, on top of areas that have dampened economies too," Dr. Greenberg said.

However, he added this problem spreads far beyond the Shasta County lines.

"A lot of it is just the rural aspect. We see that in other counties around here, Siskiyou County, Lake County, and other surrounding counties have a lot of problems as well," Dr. Greenberg said.

Jenny March works at Cruz Thru market in Bella Vista.

She says she has seen a change in the number of overdoses and addicts moving to the rural communities over the last few years.

"We see them more and more. The numbers have gotten... Like you know... We see a few more every year," March said.

She hopes they will get access to the resources they need to get better before an overdose occurs.

"Maybe if they come up with a program they can get into, especially people that are getting out of jail and they're releasing them here, because our kids grow up and see that, you know, everywhere," March said.

Fortunately, those resources may be on their way.

Dr. Greenberg says Shasta Regional Medical Center is working hard to address the opioid overdose issues they face by offering medication assisted therapy for patients with Opioid Use Disorder.

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