Opioid overdoses continue to make local and national headlines. We recently worked with a group of researchers to publish a study showing dramatic increases in fatal opioid-related overdoses in Marion County; however, the data we used were only through 2015. We feel it is important to update the residents of our community on more recent trends, and so we have been working with Philip Huynh (Fairbanks School of Public Health) to update the toxicology data and Peter Phalen (University of Indianapolis) to estimate and map trends in overdose. We have used the same methodology from our earlier study, which looks at the detection of substances rather than the cause-of-death. It is important to note that with this methodology cases are not mutually exclusive so a single drug overdose can contain several substances and would be counted in each of those categories.
The updated data Phil collected shows drug overdose deaths have continued to rise in Marion County, reaching an all-time high of 345 in 2016. This is more than four times the average number of yearly traffic fatalities (85) in Marion County. This rise in drug overdose deaths has continued into the current year. As of May 1, 2017 (our most up-to date data), there have been 130 drug overdose deaths. This is in contrast to the 98 deaths that were recorded at the same time last year.