A significant fall in overdose deaths was recorded in Clark County in 2018, according to new public health data.
The Clark County Drug Death Review Committee reviewed 64 overdose deaths in 2018. That’s about a 40 percent decrease from the 106 deaths reviewed in 2017.
There have been 19 confirmed drug overdose deaths in Clark County since the beginning of 2019, according to the committee. There are eight more suspected drug deaths still being investigated.
Overdose deaths increased by nearly 52 percent from 2015 to 2017. There were 260 deaths evaluated by the Drug Death Review Committee during that three-year span.
But the new numbers are positive, Clark County Combined Health District Commissioner Charles Patterson said.
“The numbers are a sign we’re headed in the right direction, but we must continue to support prevention, treatment and recovery efforts to continue to see a decrease in the numbers,” he said.
While the overdose deaths are down, public health officials and law enforcement have warned the public that they believe drug use is not. The fall in deaths has been attributed to programs like the drug death review committee and other organizations.
About 89 percent of the individuals who died of an overdose were white and about 11 percent were black, according to the new data. The most common age groups for overdose deaths were 35-44 years (29 percent) and 25-34 years (26 percent).
Over 50 percent of individuals in Clark County who died of an overdose had a history of mental health treatment and almost 40 percent of individuals had experienced trauma, according to the drug death review committee.
“The relationship between substance use, mental illness, and trauma is complex, but we know that they are commonly co-occurring. said Greta Mayor, chief executive officer of the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Clark, Green and Madison Counties “One reason for this is that common risk factors, like genetics and environmental influences like childhood trauma, can contribute to both mental illness and substance use and addiction.”
READ MORE: Drug deaths down in Clark County
The Clark County Substance Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Support Coalition started several initiatives in 2018 to curb addiction, according to a press release announcing the new data. The initiatives included a strategic plan that worked to curb drug abuse and provide recovery support in Clark County, including addressing trauma.
Other initiatives included Get Recovery Options Working (GROW), a collaboration between recovery advocates and law enforcement designed to educate the community about recovery options, The One2One Exchange which collects needles and distributes Narcan kits and the coalition hosted a series of forums to educate the community.
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