Overdose deaths of younger people rise; health experts launch new efforts

Groups of two to four health workers are going door-to-door in Huntington, West Virginia, after officials respond to 911 calls for issues like drug overdoses.

The outreach stems from a national model developed by a similar quick-response team in Colerain Township near Cincinnati.

Health workers are trying to encourage people to seek medical treatment, Huntington Comprehensive Treatment Center Clinic Director Katy Maynard said.

“Instead of them coming to us, we’re (going) to them,” she said.

The number of people in their late 20s and 30s who died from overdoses jumped during 2014 and 2015 at a rate much worse than rising overdose deaths for those in their 40s and 50s.

“People on the streets say we haven’t met the worst yet,” Maynard said. “And that scares me.”

Drug overdoses now kill more people than gun homicides and car crashes combined, according to a federal commission studying the issue. President Donald Trump has declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency.

Maynard said it used to be common to see people in their 30s and 40s affected, but now it’s affecting those in their 20s and 30s.

National death rates show an emerging trend for younger populations:

  • Nearly 6,300 people age 30 to 34 years died in 2015 due to drug overdoses, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
  • The death rate among 30- to 34-year-olds was higher than the number of deaths for those in their early and late 40s and late 50s, which historically have lost more lives to such overdoses.
  • Only the age group of 50- to 54-year-olds lost more lives through drug overdoses that year, which involved more than 6,700 deaths.

A substance-abuse housing program in Huntington, West Virginia, called The Lifehouse seeks to rid people of alcohol and drugs completely. The founder and executive director of the Christian-based organization, Raymond “Rocky” Meadows, said people frequently believed they were using heroin, but laboratory results showed they had a mixture of fentanyl — a powerful synthetic opioid — and morphine.

West Virginia has repeatedly had the highest rate of overdose deaths for any state since replacing New Mexico in 2010. Many counties there also have had the worst rates of fatal overdoses compared to other counties across the country, according to the most recent CDC data available.

The national public health emergency declaration could unleash further funding for areas like those hard-hit communities. Federal…

Read the full article from the Source…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *