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In 2020, Westmoreland overdose deaths increase



After two consecutive years of decline, the number of deaths from drug overdose in Westmoreland County appears to have risen slightly by 2020.

Statistics from the county coroner showed that 1

02 people died of drug overdose last year, and 19 cases were suspected.

If these 19 suspected cases are confirmed by toxicology, it will be an increase of 5% over the 2019 figure.

After reaching a record high of 193 drug overdose deaths in 2017, the county had 122 deaths in 2018 and 122 deaths.

Coroner Ken Bacha said: “For several years, things have been very good.”

According to the coroner’s statistics, the powerful opioid fentanyl remains the number one killer, accounting for 91 of the 102 confirmed deaths.

Those recovering from drug abuse problems find that they are in a difficult situation for most of 2020, as support organizations and rehabilitation and treatment centers must adjust their products to meet national restrictions, thereby slowing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Face-to-face meetings and other events that can serve as lifelines have been scaled down or conducted online, affecting stability or routines that someone may rely on.

Colleen Hughes, head of the Westmoreland Drug and Alcohol Committee, said of the videoconferencing application: “Zooming is good, but in 12 steps, people like to touch and hug.” “Those who have really recovered have suffered.”

The local prevention organization must also figure out a way to convey the message.

Both the committee and the Westmoreland County Drug Overdose Working Group relied on driving incidents to distribute naloxone (an antidote to opioid overdose).

Working group director Tim Phillips (Tim Phillips) said: “We have to recreate ourselves.”

Phillips said the organization has distributed 400 to 500 doses of naloxone for one-time distribution through a partnership with the Diaper Bank in Western Pennsylvania.

He said: “I hope our efforts to reduce injuries will help.”

Hughes said the committee has held a similar “drive” event and started mailing naloxone to anyone who wants to take it in Westmoreland County. She and Phillips believe that given this year’s situation, the county’s drug overdose deaths will be much higher by 2020.

In other parts of the country.

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nationwide, the death toll seems to increase in 2020 after a slight decline in the past few years. The organization issued a warning in December that after the death toll appeared to be accelerating during the pandemic, prevention efforts were needed.

According to statistics from medical inspectors, it is not clear how Allegheny’s drug overdose deaths in 2020 compare to 2019. The death toll in 2019 is 564 deaths in 2019 and 492 deaths. death. By 2020, there have been 492 drug overdose deaths in the Allegheny region, but it is not clear that the last time the information was updated on OverdoseFreePa.com.

Fentanyl was the leading cause of death from drug overdose in Westmoreland last year, followed by heroin and prescription opioids. Hughes and Phillips said that fentanyl, which has been number one since 2016, appears to be mixed with other drugs, including cocaine and methamphetamine. According to the coroner’s statistics, cocaine was present in 23 deaths and methamphetamine was present in 16 confirmed cases.

By 2020, Monessen will be hit hard by overdose deaths. There were 10 confirmed deaths there, making it the second highest city in the county after Greensburg, which is the county where Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital is located. In 2019, one person died from an overdose of Monessen.

Hughes said the committee is located in Monessen and plans to focus on the city and post yard signs at the place of death to remind residents that naloxone can be used. The members of the Menggu Opioid Alliance plan to discuss ways to focus on the small town bordering Washington County.

Of the confirmed deaths in 2020 so far, Hempfield and North Huntingdon each have 7 people, and New Kensington and Sewickley each have 5 people. Greensburg had the highest score at 12 years old.

Renatta Signorini is a commentary writer for the Tribune. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, rsignorini@triblive.com or via Twitter.

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Local | Top Stories Westmoreland




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