Overdoses up 93 percent in Allen County since 2008

FILE - This Feb. 19, 2013 file photo shows OxyContin pills are arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt. In a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in December 2015, drug overdoses in the U.S. rose again in 2014, driven by surges in deaths from heroin and powerful prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and Oxycontin. Overall, overdose deaths in the U.S. surpassed 47,000 — up 7 percent from 2013. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)-The numbers are startling. Drug overdoses are up 93 percent in Allen County from 2008 to 2015. The Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health revealed the results from a new study.

Most of those overdoses are by accident. The majority of them -nearly 80 percent- involve opioids. The results of the study only highlight the ongoing crisis across the U.S. and right here at home.

The new study puts some perspective on those who have fallen victim to drug overdoses. Dr. Deb McMahan, Allen County Health Commissioner, said the studies show the death rates were higher for white men who were employed at the time. Oftentimes, the overdoses happen at home, when someone is there.

“These are people who did not intend to die,” said McMahan. “Many of these people were working they had a life, they just accidentally took too much medicine. Maybe you’re out in the yard raking the leaves, or you lift your grandchild or maybe you hurt your back at work and you think, ‘well I’ll just take an extra pill or two.’ That may be enough to kill you.”

She said the increasing number of opioid overdoses has a lot to do with doctors over-prescribing the drug.

“I think this is a big learning curve and I think our data really highlights that,” she said. “This is a big learning curve for everybody. Prescribers and patients alike.”

Based on the results of this study, the health department wants to make changes to the current prescription drug monitoring system. Dr. McMahan said the changes would help screen patients who are at higher risk for accidental overdose.

“What we need to do is just be more judicious in prescribing,” she said. “Then we also need to do a better job of screening and getting people on appropriate medication.”

The Health Department will also continue to push access to Narcan which could potentially save the life of someone who has overdosed on opioids..