Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) and County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano issued a health advisory Tuesday regarding the epidemic of prescription opioid abuse, and on the same day the county’s Board of Supervisors proclaimed March as Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Month. The health advisory is available here.
The actions are part of a national effort to draw attention to the epidemic. Local data on opioid-caused deaths should do enough on their own to draw attention, officials said.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 53 people died of accidental drug overdose deaths in 2003, while in 2017 that number doubled to 105. Opioids are a major contributing factor, county officials said. In 2010, the county experienced 33 opioid overdose deaths. Preliminary data for 2018 reveals 66 opioid related overdose deaths, up from 52 in 2017.
CCHS said it works closely with local medical providers and community partners to combat the abuse of painkillers such as hydrocodone (Norco), oxycodone (OxyContin) and fentanyl,” county officials said. Its health advisory urges local medical providers to follow the prescribing guidelines developed by the Alameda-Contra Costa Medical Association and already in use at all county hospitals and urgent care clinics.
The county has also taken steps, including establishing safe drug disposal sites, which include kiosks at pharmacies.
“The advisory also urges wider use of Naloxone, a drug that can reverse life-threatening opioid overdoses, and identifies resources for safe prescribing, safe disposal and treatment in Contra Costa,” officials said.
Up-to-date information and data about California’s opioid epidemic is available through the California Department of Public Health’s Opioid Overdose Surveillance Dashboard.