Accidental drug overdose deaths have decreased in Montgomery County over the past few months, according to a new report from the Community Overdose Action Team task force. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean fewer people are grappling with drug addiction, officials say.
The number of Montgomery County overdose deaths fell by more than half between May and August of this year, from 80 to 38 per month.
“And what that means is people are using Narcan, people are being revived, people are seeking emergency treatment earlier at the signs of an overdose,” says Jodi Long, director of treatment and support services at Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS).
Long says despite the decrease in overdose deaths, Montgomery County’s drug-related emergency room visits have remained steady.
“We suspect overdoses are not decreasing," says Long. "But people dying from overdoses is decreasing.”
Access to the drug-overdose antidote naloxone, commonly known by its brand-name Narcan, has increased throughout Montgomery County. All county EMS departments now carry the drug. And, public distribution centers for Narcan have expanded.
But, Long says longterm treatment options are also critical to fighting the opioid epidemic. ADAMHS is working with other area anti-drug organizations to increase the availability of detoxification services, and to provide better outreach to patients recently revived by Narcan.