SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – Thirty-seven, that’s the number of people who overdosed on drugs in Snohomish County in only a matter of a week.
The data came from a first of its kind survey.
For seven days in late July, hospitals, first responders and drug users shared detailed information about overdose cases with local health officials.
The goal for health professionals was to gauge the severity of the addiction crisis, and figure out how to save more lives.
This story is all about the numbers and, out of the 37 overdoses recorded during the point-in-time count, three were fatal. Ten of the overdoses happened during the first day of the survey.
Last year, drug overdoses killed more than 90 people in Snohomish County alone.
“This is the first time we’ve ever done anything with this, we didn’t know what to expect really,” said Heather Thomas, with Snohomish Health District.
The survey results could figure out exactly where and how many people are overdosing on drugs in the county. It’s information officials say they need before they can understand why so many are suffering through addiction.
“The youngest was 16, the oldest was 52 but half of them were 21 to 30,” said Thomas. “Again, is that where we’re seeing this issue hitting most in Snohomish County? We’d like to continue to dig into that.”
During the survey one addict wrote about their experience, saying they had: “Only been injecting a few months; smoking before that. Dope was strong. Only used a little but went out.”
That kind of information could help first responders track drugs laced with much more potent ingredients like fentanyl.
“Alerting law enforcement, public health professionals as well as those drug users that there are substances out there that are far more lethal than they think,” said Thomas.
Most major communities in the county recorded overdoses during the late July survey.
The most happened in Everett and also in Lynnwood where a new detox facility is poised to double the area’s treatment capacity.
“That means a thousand more people a year will be getting a chance to start a recovery plan,” said Linda Grant, CEO of Evergreen Recovery Centers.
Officials said the survey also suggests overdose-reversing drugs like naloxone are saving lives – in all, 24 people survived because the life-saving medication is in the hands of first responders and everyday people.
The survey will likely be repeated, eventually using the data to deploy social services to keep addicts from dying.
“It answered a lot of ‘whats’, it gives us some information to dig deeper and understand the ‘whys’ behind the numbers,” said Thomas.