Newly released data shows Clallam County’s heroin and opioid epidemic affects people of all ages across the entire county.
That was the biggest surprise to Dr. Chris Frank, Clallam County health officer, as he reviewed data compiled from the first year of mandatory overdose reporting.
“It isn’t just people in Forks or Port Angeles; it really is spread across the whole county, both genders and all age groups,” he said Jan. 17 after he had presented information to the county Board of Health.
Last year, the county documented 62 opioid overdoses and at least six deaths.
That is just one figure out of the statistics that the Clallam County Department of Health and Human Services will use to gauge its effectiveness in fighting the epidemic, Frank said.
The county has been documented as above the state average in opioid hospitalizations. The data was compiled as part of a three-county effort, including Clallam, Jefferson and Kitsap, led by the Olympic Community of Health, to fight opioid addiction, Frank said. OCH is developing an opioid response plan for the three counties, which will be funded with Medicaid money from the state, he said.
Frank said this data will set a baseline that will let officials know if programs are making a difference.
The data looks at opioid overdoses, deaths and opioid-related inpatient hospitalizations. It shows that of those who overdosed in 2016, 68 percent were male and 35 percent were between the ages of 18-29.
Last year, 63 percent of overdoses were in Port Angeles, 19 percent on the West End and 13 percent in Sequim.
That data, which is split into quarters, shows the number of overdoses decreasing from 20 in the first quarter of 2016 to 11 in the fourth quarter.
But with only a year of data, Frank said, it’s too early to draw any conclusions in that trend.
“We hope it’s the start of a trend, but I think it’s still too early to say,” he said, adding there might be seasonality to overdose trends or other factors.