Opioid ODs down for November

Published 4:46 pm Wednesday, December 19, 2018

November’s statistics show the opioid epidemic has loosened its grip on Stanly County for the first time in six months.

No longer is Stanly No. 1 in opioid overdoses with hospital emergency room visits. Mecklenburg County holds the distinction for November, followed by Buncombe, Guilford, Cumberland, Surry, Halifax and Vance counties, according to the most recent data released by the N.C. Department of  Health and Human Services.

As for the highest rates of overdoses, Randolph County (9.8 per 100,000) owns that distinction for the month followed by Buncombe, Cabarrus, Cumberland, Forsyth and Mecklenburg.

Last month, Stanly was tops in both rankings. The county had been No. 1 in statewide opioid overdoses for five months before this latest reprieve.

Statistics for Stanly show there have been 105 year-to-date emergency room visits due to opioid overdoses, compared to 48 for the same period last year.

Since 1999, the number of medication and drug poisonings deaths has increased by more than 580 percent, from 363 to 2,475 last year.

In 2017, there was a 27.1 percent increase in opioid-related deaths, compared to the previous year.

Through November of this year, there have been 1,031 confirmed opioid-related poisoning fatalities.

While prescription opioids have been a catalyst for this epidemic, illegal drugs are currently contributing to the growing crisis. Heroin or other synthetic narcotics, like fentanyl, were involved in nearly 80 percent of unintentional opioid deaths, according to NCDHHS.