Arlington police say they’ve responded to a total of 39 opioid overdoses so far this year, six of which proved fatal, a slight slowdown from the numbers the county recorded a year ago.
Through Aug. 10, police reported encountering the drugs — including both illegal substances like heroin and prescription drugs — a total of 103 times, including possession and distribution cases as well as overdoses.
Last year, police investigated a total of 19 opioid overdose deaths, in addition to 55 non-fatal overdoses. Both those figures represented steep jumps from 2016, when police recorded 12 fatal overdoses and 33 non-fatal incidents.
In all, Arlington officials estimate they saw a 245 percent jump in patients seeking help for opioid addiction between 2015 and 2017, as the drugs have impacted rural and urban communities alike over the last few years.
The average Virginia locality recorded 15 opioid overdose deaths in 2016, according to state data, and 120 emergency room visits related to overdoses. Nearby, Fairfax County saw eight opioid deaths in 2016 and 87 overdose patients in local emergency rooms.
Arlington officials have taken a variety of steps to address the issue over the last few months, including installing “drug take back boxes” to help people dispose of unused prescription drugs, offering free trainings in the use of the overdose reversal drug naloxone and building stronger links between police and county treatment programs.
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