• By Tracey Semcer
  • Posted Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Initiative for Drug Overdose Prevention

During 2015, drug overdoses accounted for 52,404 U.S. deaths. 33,091 of these deaths involved an opioid. Opioids include prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and others, as well as the illicit drugs heroin and fentanyl.

Increasingly, the drug that causes the most destruction is heroin. This is in part because users are receiving heroin laced with fentanyl. Fentanyl is a man-made opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. There are two types of fentanyl:

  • Pharmaceutical fentanyl, which is primarily prescribed to manage acute and chronic pain.
  • Non-pharmaceutical fentanyl, which is illegally manufactured, and is often mixed with heroin and/or cocaine - with or without the user’s knowledge - in order to increase the drug’s effect.

Overdose deaths continue to affect North Carolina. Since 1999, the number of overdoses have increased by more than 391 percent, from 279 in 1999 to 1,370 in 2015. If current trends continue, overdose deaths will surpass motor vehicle accident deaths in our state.

There are now more than twice as many annual deaths from drug overdoses than murders in North Carolina.

In Forsyth County opioid related deaths have increased by 960% from 5 in 1999 to 53 in 2015. 33 of the 53 overdose deaths involved a prescription opioid. In 2016, there were over 21,803,000 opioid prescription pills prescribed and dispensed to Forsyth County residents. That is roughly a 60 day supply for each and every person in our County!

In response to the opioid epidemic, Forsyth County Department of Public Health has launched an Initiative for Drug Overdose Prevention. For more information please click here.

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