37 people overdosed on opioids in 1 week in July, with 3 deaths

EVERETT — New data provide a sobering picture of the opioid problem in Snohomish County, with 37 overdoses in one week, including three deaths.

The information, collected between July 17-23, shows “the scope of the problem here in real time,” said Heather Thomas, a Snohomish Health District spokeswoman.

The numbers were surprising even to one person who deals daily with treating people who are battling drug dependence.

“Wow, that’s frightening,” said Linda Grant, chief executive of the nonprofit Evergreen Recovery Centers.

“It really hits home when you see data that show how deeply it’s impacting our community,” she said.

The numbers reflect only reported overdoses. Grant said more probably occurred that weren’t reported.

The seven days of data provide the first time such up-to-date information has been available. It was reported by local hospitals, fire and police departments and private ambulance services, among other sources.

The people who died included two in their 50s and someone in their 30s.

The most overdoses — 10 — occurred July 17, a Monday. No one knows if that was linked to the source of the drugs ingested, or coincidence, Thomas said.

Half of the overdoses occurred among 21- to 30-year olds, with the youngest reported overdose a 16-year-old.

The 37 overdoses were split between genders, occurring in 18 women and 19 men.

Though toxicology tests weren’t conducted, most of the overdoses are believed to have been caused by heroin.

The lives of 24 people were saved by receiving naloxone, an overdose reversing drug, which is available without a prescription at local pharmacies.

In 16 of the cases, people were given naloxone by a friend, family member or bystander. Another 11 people received it from police or emergency medical services.

Grant said she was encouraged that naloxone was administered in about 65 percent of the overdoses documented for one week in July.

Most of the overdoses occurred in Everett and Lynnwood, with 11 each. The patients’ hometowns are scattered throughout the county, with six listed as homeless.

The health district hopes to continue collecting more timely local data on the opioid problem, Thomas said.

The week’s data should help with the local response from law enforcement, social service agencies and public health, she said.

The data were collected for ABC News as part of a national look at communities affected by the opioid epidemic. The show is scheduled for broadcast later this month.

More information on where the overdose-reversing drug naloxone may be purchased is available online at bit.ly/2vOLmmW.

Evergreen Recovery Services is scheduled to open its new 16-bed Lynnwood detox unit on 56th Avenue W on Tuesday, Grant said. The organization also has a treatment center in Everett.

Everyone who is a opiate user who is discharged from Evergreen and isn’t going directly to treatment is given naloxone and instructions on how to use it.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.

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