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First quarter sees 30% increase in overdoses in Carroll County, twice as many deaths

The first quarter of 2021 saw a nearly 30% increase in overdoses and the number of fatal overdoses doubled, compared with the first quarter of 2020, although March numbers were lower across the board than the previous two months.

There were 115 overdoses over the first three months of the year. A year ago, there were 89 over the same time span, according to statistics compiled by the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office.

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There have been 18 fatalities attributed to overdoses in 2021 after there were nine during the first quarter of last year.

Despite those overall increases, year over year, March represented a significant decrease in overdoses (25) and fatalities (two) compared with January (43 overdoses, 10 fatalities) and February (47, six).

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The 25 overdoses in March were the fewest in Carroll in one month since last April, according to Sheriff’s Office figures. The opioid antidote Narcan was administered in nine of the March cases.

Of the 115 overdoses this year, 27 of them have been ruled suicide attempts, including seven in March. However, no attempt has been successful.

The combination of heroin and fentanyl was found to be the method of overdose in 19 of the 115, including nine of the 25 in March. Heroin alone was responsible in 17 and the method is unknown in 17. Prescription medications accounted for 15 of the overdoses, “other” opiate for 12, fentanyl for 10, alcohol abuse for nine, “other” controlled dangerous substances for six, over-the-counter medications for four, four are pending the medical examiner’s report and cocaine was responsible for the other two.

Of the 10 overdoses where fentanyl alone was ruled to be the method, eight resulted in deaths.

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“We suspect that a lot more of these cases are fentanyl overdoses, but we don’t usually have any drugs to send to the lab,” Regional Heroin Coordinator Brant Webb told the Times last year. “Basically, any time we get fentanyl results back, they always come from an autopsy.”

Demographically, 108 of the overdoses were suffered by county residents and 34% of all overdoses were responded to by Westminster police, 14% in Sheriff’s Office patrol district 5 (Westminster area) and 10% by Taneytown police. The age group most likely to overdose was 25-34, which accounted for 31% — including eight of the 18 fatalities — while 45-54 was next with 23%. Ten overdoses, or 9%, were individuals 18 or younger.

The two deaths reported for March were a 32-year-old female and a 31-year-old male, both in Westminster, according to the Sheriff’s Office report.

The first quarter of 2021 saw more overdoses and fatal overdoses than the first quarter of any year since 2018.

It puts Carroll County on pace for 460 overdoses and 72 deaths. Carroll County saw 426 overdoses in 2020, a 1.8% decrease compared with 2019, and 45 fatal overdoses.

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