Since 2006, an average of 127 residents have died each year due to all drug overdoses, with an average of 42% (53) from opioid overdoses.
The United States is in the middle of an opioid overdose epidemic. Opioids, including prescription opioids, heroin and fentanyl killed more than 42,000 people in 2016, more than any year on record, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In this month’s Travis County Medical Society Journal, Austin Public Health summarizes drug overdose and opioid use data for Austin and Travis County. The journal article can be seen here. The article is in this publication: http://www.tcms.com/TCMS_Journal/
Since 2006, there has been an upward trend in the number of drug overdose deaths (all drugs) as well as opioid overdose deaths in Travis County. Data for Travis County show that both prescription opioids and illicit opioids contribute to overdose in Travis County. However, Travis County remains well below the national and state rate for opioid prescribing. In 2016, the Travis County opioid prescription rate (51.2 per 100 persons) was lower than the Texas rate (57.6 per 100 persons) and the US rate (66.5 per 100 persons).
Other summary highlights include:
- 1,398 Travis County residents died due to drug overdoses from 2006-2016, an average of 127 each year.
- 590 of those deaths (42.2%) were due to a drug overdose from opioids (including opium, heroin, methadone, other opioids and other synthetic narcotics).
- Of the 590 deaths due to opioid overdoses, 537 (91%) were unintentional poisonings; 43 (7%) were intentional (suicide).
- Males have a rate of overdose death due to opioids that is twice as high as females (6.4 per 100,000 versus 3.1 per 100,000).
- Whites have a rate of overdose due to opioids (6.8 per 100,000) that is more than twice that of blacks (3.3 per 100,000) and two and a half times that of Hispanics (2.7 per 100,000).
- From 2000 through 2017 there were 3,600 calls from Travis County to the Texas Poison Center Network for exposure to opioids—an average of 200 calls each year. Calls from exposures involving children (ages 0-19) accounted for 27% of all calls.
“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.