It appears the number of drug fatalities in 2023 will exceed the 2022 number in Jefferson County, but the coroner says the increase won't be significant.
The Jefferson County Coroner's Office keeps up with numbers daily. So far, in 2023, there have been 441 confirmed drug fatalities, with 33 suspected drug fatalities. Although the suspected drug fatalities have not been confirmed, there is reasonable evidence to believe drugs had a part in those deaths.
Coroner Bill Yates said in years past, there have been increases of 100 drug deaths year-to-year, so this year's growth is not as dramatic as it has been before. However, he said with as much effort being put forth to educate the public on the dangers of opioids and other drugs, it is unfortunate there isn't a decrease in drug fatalities.
"It's sad that with all the efforts that are made to publicize the problem we have in our community, we continue to have the overdoses," Yates told 1819 News. "So, it's not going away."
Yates said the good news is that this year, there was not a significant increase in any type of new drug. Fentanyl is still the most common drug found in those who die of overdoses, and Yates said there are still large amounts of methamphetamine and cocaine, often mixed with fentanyl, found in decedents.
It appears there will be a decrease in deaths involving a dangerous horse tranquilizer that is not an opioid but acts like one. Xylazine is often added to other drugs and is not reactive to opioid-reversal agents such as Narcan.
In 2022, 44 deaths involved xylazine. So far, in 2023, there have only been 26 confirmed cases where xylazine was one of the drugs found in a decedent's system.
The Jefferson County Coroner/Medical Examiner's Office has an interactive statistical data report online.
Anyone in Alabama can receive a free Narcan kit by completing an online training video.
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