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Published on October 24, 2019

Dramatic increase in opioid overdose cases and deaths in Monterey County

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Monica Sciuto (831) 622-2756
Communication and Marketing: (831) 625-4505

Casey Grover

Monterey, Calif. — Monterey County officials, hospitals, city police departments, drug treatment centers, and others gathered for an emergency meeting at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula on Tuesday night, October 22 to discuss the dramatic increase in opioid-related overdoses and deaths in Monterey County this year. According to Monterey County Public Health, deaths from opioids is already more than three times the total for 2018 – with 29 deaths so far. And, in just over the last 10 days, Community Hospital has reported 9 overdoses – with one resulting in the death of a 16-year-old girl in Seaside.

Monterey County Prescribe Safe Initiative, a collaborative of more than 35 local businesses and agencies, has been addressing the opioid addiction problem since 2013 and with great success. In 2018, Monterey County had the second-lowest death rate of any county in California. But, in the last several months, counterfeit medications have entered the market, many with a toxic or lethal dose of fentanyl (see Santa Clara County, CSUMB Police Department, and Peninsula Regional Violence and Narcotics Team press releases), causing an increase in opioid-related overdoses and deaths. Fentanyl is a very powerful opioid, 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. The 29 reported opioid deaths in 2019 are up from 7 deaths in 2017 and 9 in 2018. Many of this year’s deaths are potentially linked to the counterfeit pills containing fentanyl, made to look like prescription medications. Many who take these pills were unaware that they were taking a deadly dose of fentanyl.

Monterey County Prescribe Safe Initiative partners are informing the public of the increased dangers and arming residents with information to avoid addiction and/or overdoses, protect their kids, help police, and find resources for those who may need it. What community members can do:

  • Residents should only not take prescription medications prescribed by a doctor and obtained at a pharmacy. Do not buy or accept pills from any other source as many counterfeit pills look exactly like their authentic counterparts, but can contain lethal doses of opioid.
  • Parents should talk to their children about never taking pills of unknown origin.
  • Community members should notify law enforcement if they have any information that could lead to the origin of the counterfeit pills or other illegal drugs. Investigators can be called at (831) 646-6926 or if you wish to remain anonymous, contact the Tip-Line (831) 646-3840.
  • Community members should have a supply of naloxone, the reversal agent for an opioid overdose. Naloxone can be purchased at a pharmacy or from Valley Health Associates. Community Hospital will be sponsoring a naloxone education event in November (visit www.montagehealth.org/prescribesafe).
  • If an overdose is suspected, 911 should be called immediately to obtain medical assistance. Under a state “good Samaritan” law, people seeking treatment for an overdose for themselves or others will not be arrested or subject to criminal prosecution.

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ABOUT MONTEREY COUNTY PRESCRIBE SAFE INITIATIVE
The Monterey County Prescribe Safe Initiative (MCPSI) is a multi-organizational collaborative effort in Monterey County with the goal of improving safety of prescription drugs, reducing inappropriate prescribing of prescription pain medications and sedatives, increasing access to treatment for addiction, and improving education to the public and medical community on the dangers of prescription drugs.

Prescribe Safe partners:

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Montage Health

Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula

Montage Health Foundation

Montage Medical Group

Montage Wellness Center

Aspire Health Plan

MoGo Urgent Care logo

Community Health Innovations