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Health department shares Travis County opioid overdose statistics

Wednesday, April 18, 2018 by Katy McElroy

Travis County residents have not escaped the opioid epidemic that is ravaging the United States, and  Austin Public Health broke down the numbers this month in an article published in the Travis County Medical Society Journal. The article shares that the total amount of drug-related deaths has been rising since 2006, including deaths from opioid overdoses. From 2006 to 2016, 1,398 residents died from drug overdoses in general, which works out to an average of 127 a year, and 42 percent of those deaths were due to opioids, such as heroin and fentanyl. Males have an opioid overdose death rate that is twice that of females, the article says, and the data show the death rate of whites is more than twice that of African-Americans and two and a half times that of Latinos. While overdoses happen from both prescription and illegal opioids in Travis County, the article does point out that the county’s prescription rate of 51.2 per 100 persons is much lower than the national and state rates of 66.5 and 57.6, respectively. “Based on the data, Austin Public Health recommends expanding access to evidence-based substance abuse treatment, expanding access and use of naloxone, a safe antidote to reverse opioid overdoses, and improving prescription drug monitoring to improve patient safety and prevent abuse,” said Dr. Philip Huang, medical director and health authority for Austin Public Health.

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