The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office has confirmed 488 deaths in 2022 were due to drug overdoses.
Coroner Bill Yates has been sounding the alarm on the opioid crisis, saying fentanyl deaths have been a bigger issue than record homicide numbers for the county. However, the overdose deaths have also surpassed COVID deaths in the county.
In 2022, there were 452 COVID-related deaths, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH).
Dr. Darlene Traffanstedt, the Medical Director of Family Planning & Health Equity and Population Health with the Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH), said the issue is being addressed through several avenues, including partnerships with other entities and free services and supplies.
Free Narcan, which reverses the effect of opioids, and fentanyl test strips are available to anyone in Alabama via online training and mail order.
“Through this process, JCDH distributed 8,070 Narcan kits in 2022, an increase of 57% over 2021, and 8,910 FTS in 2022,” said Traffanstedt.
This year alone, Traffanstedt said the JCDH has already received 5,608 requests for Narcan.
Partnerships include the ADPH, the Alabama Department of Mental Health, the Addiction Prevention Coalition, the Recovery Resource Center, UAB, the Housing Authority of Birmingham, Birmingham Public Libraries and local schools.
“JCDH provided a Narcan kit to every public school in Jefferson County, enough to place with each AED inside each school in the various school districts,” Traffanstedt added. “JCDH is pursuing multiple opportunities to spread awareness in the community via public speaking engagements or small group meetings, participating in 19 community outreach events in the month of April 2023.”
The JCDH has also been working with local law enforcement to provide overdose response training and Narcan for officers. These partnerships have been ongoing for several years, Traffanstedt told 1819 News.
Free Narcan and Fentanyl Test Strips are available to anyone in the state of Alabama at https://www.jcdh.org/naloxone.
Anyone with a substance abuse question or concern can call Alabama’s substance abuse hotline at 1-844-307-1760.
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