A weeklong survey of opioid overdoses conducted earlier this month showed 57 incidents, compared with a total of 37 cases in a similar survey a year earlier.
Opioid overdoses have dramatically increased in Snohomish County compared with last year, possibly because of stricter rules for prescribing the drugs, health officials said.
A weeklong survey of opioid overdoses conducted earlier this month showed 57 incidents, the Snohomish Health District reported Wednesday, or an average of about eight per day. That compares with a total of 37 cases in a similar survey a year earlier, when the tally was taken for the first time.
The effort to better understand the epidemic’s local impact comes at a time of increased national attention on the misuse of and addiction to opioids, a class of drugs that includes fentanyl, heroin and prescription painkillers.
Police officers, firefighters, medical providers, social workers and others recorded information about overdoses between July 9 and 15. The survey included questions about age, race, time and site of overdose, and where the drugs were obtained. It also recorded whether naloxone, an overdose-reversal drug known by the brand name Narcan, was administered.
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The health district said the dramatic increase in reported overdoses may be due to doctors observing tighter guidelines on opioid prescriptions, leading their patients to turn to heroin or to illegal opioid vendors. The surge may also have been caused by improved data collection, officials said.
Of the reported overdoses, the youngest victim was 17 and the oldest was 73, according to the report. People between the ages of 21 and 30 accounted for more than a third of cases. Naloxone was given in 72 percent of the reported overdoses.
The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office reported that almost a third of those detained during the weeklong survey were put under watches for opioid-withdrawal symptoms.