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Sheriff’s Office report shows steep increase in overdose deaths in Carroll County last month

Coming off a second consecutive year in which Carroll County saw a decrease in overdoses and fatal overdoses, 2021 is off to a different, deadlier start.

Overdoses in January rose by more than 20% compared with last year, and eight of those were fatal overdoses, which is four times as many as last January and the most in any month for Carroll since 2019, according to the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office’s monthly overdose report.

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There were 41 overdoses in Carroll last month after 38 the previous month and 34 last January. Eight of the 41 were suicide attempts, according to the report, while 25 were accidental and eight remain undetermined.

The number of overdoses is not an outlier — Carroll saw 50 overdoses in a month as recently as September — but there had been no more than four fatal overdoses in Carroll in any month since May and eight was the most monthly fatalities reported in the county since November 2019, when there were nine. Prior to that March of 2018 was the last time more than eight were reported.

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Of the eight deaths, two have been ruled accidental and six are still undetermined, according to the report.

Heroin remained the primary method for overdoses as it was found to be present in 13 of the cases. Five overdoses were caused by prescription medication, four by alcohol, four by other controlled dangerous substances, two by the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl and two by other opiates. Eight cases are pending a report from the medical examiner and three were ruled drug/method unknown.

Forty of the 41 who overdosed were Carroll County residents and Narcan, the brand name for naloxone, which is used to treat narcotic overdoses, was administered in 18 cases, the report showed.

The victims ranged in age from 14 to 67, with 14 in the 25-34 range and 10 aged 35-44 while six were 45-54, four were 19-24, four were over 55, and three were under 18.

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Twenty-three of the overdoses occurred either in Westminster’s city limits or the Westminster patrol area. That was the continuation of a trend. The final 2020 statistics show that more than half of Carroll County’s overdoses occur within the city limits of Westminster or the patrol area that includes areas outside the city limits but still considered to be Westminster. (Of 218 overdoses within municipality limits in Carroll, 159 were in Westminster. Taneytown was next with 31.)

It’s only one month, but 41 overdoses has Carroll on pace for 492 in 2021.

Carroll County saw 426 overdoses in 2020, a 1.8% decrease compared with 2019 based on year-end data compiled by the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office reflecting all overdoses reported to law enforcement. The total number of fatal overdoses (45) decreased by 18.2%.

The 2020 statistics built on the 2019 data, which saw a steep decline after several years of significant increases in overdoses and fatal overdoses in Carroll County. There were 513 overdoses and 71 overdose deaths in 2018. In two years time, those numbers decreased by 17% and 37% respectively. The 45 fatalities in 2020 were the fewest attributed to overdoses since 2015.

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