CDC study finds 30 percent rise in opioid overdoses

Cary Quashen, founder of Action Family Counseling, demonstrates the assembly of a Narcan pack, which is administered via an oral spray to a patient who has overdosed on heroin or any other opiate-based narcotic. Representative Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, said he has joined a congressional bipartisan task force to craft legislation to fight heroin addiction. Ryan Painter/The Signal.

Opioid overdoses in America have gone up 30 percent since Jul 2016 to Sept 2017, according to new information released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 14-month study showed that in 52 areas in 45 states, overdoses rose 30 percent compared to the last known data. It also found that overdoses increased by 54 percent in large cities in 16 states, and rose by 70 percent in just the Midwest.

Santa Clarita is no different than the rest of the country, according to an expert from Henry Mayo’s Behavioral Health Unit.

“It’s getting worse,” said Cary Quashen, who’s also the founder and CEO of Action Drug Rehabs.

“We are seeing more people here getting addicted to opioids,” Quashen explained. “We’re never (going to) stop drugs, it’s been here for thousands of years… We can only take the need away with education and not just people but doctors and hospitals, too.”

An emergency room doctor recently reported to The Signal that Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital typically sees anywhere from 15-20 overdoses every month brought in by ambulance.

A key strategy against addiction and overdose is more education and awareness, according to Quashen.

“Action does a lot of things in Santa Clarita, in the schools we go out with assemblies and talk to them,” Quashen said. “We’re doing some really good stuff, we could do more, but the city is doing at least as much as any other city. The sheriff’s station has the J-team and Cobra unit.”

Overdose however is not the only major health risk to opioid users. Risk of infectious disease is a factor when someone uses drugs. Like a Santa Clarita man who died of endocarditis in December, which he contracted from intravenous drug use.

Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital offers information about a list of issues including prescription drug use which can be found on their website. The CDC also provides a number or resources to educate people about the risk of opioid drugs through various methods that can be found on their website.

The CDC found that those who have overdosed on opioids once are more likely to overdose again. A factor that could contribute to this is Naloxone, under the brand name Narcan, a medication that blocks the effects of opioids especially during an overdose, according to Quashen.

“If you’re overdosing, it takes you out of the overdose,” Quashen explained. “It gives an addict a false sense of safety.”

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