Overdose deaths trending upwards, after dropping in 2018
MANATEE COUNTY - After significantly dropping in the past years, overdose deaths are on a trend to increase on the Suncoast. According to Chief Medical Examiner for the districts of Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties, Dr. Russel Vega, the numbers of overdose deaths in 2019 are already close to surpassing 2018's number. Among the three counties, 2018 saw 151 accidental overdose deaths. But, through August of this year, there have been 116 deaths.
The increase in overdose deaths is said to be because of Fentanyl.
"The amount of Fentanyl we're seeing now, may be to some extent a response to having all those other drugs essentially off the market," Dr. Russel Vega said. "What it tells you is the addiction is still there, the problem is still there. We were fortunate to get enough of the really potent drugs off the street in 2018 that we were seeing fewer overdose deaths, but now that perhaps the availability of potent Fentanyl has increased, that's leaving us with more deaths from that drug."
But, there are other drugs out there as well.
"Right now, we're also seeing a lot of cocaine, and a lot of Meth, and amphetamine," Dr. Vega said. "Which until the last couple of years, really was not very prevalent in our counties.
Captain with Manatee Sheriff's Office, Todd Shear, says to take precaution on what you put in your system.
"You don't know what you're taking sometimes," Captain Todd Shear said. "Even if you're taking a pill and it's a pill from someone, that pill might not actually be what you think you're taking."
There are all kinds of treatment centers and rehab facilities available on the Suncoast. If you or a loved one is experiencing an overdose, call 9-1-1.