By EILEEN MCCLORY
Fewer overdose deaths in Hancock County have been confirmed so far in 2018, compared with the same period in 2017, according to data from Hancock Public Health.
As of Sept. 13, the agency has confirmed seven overdose deaths in Hancock County, said Krista Pruitt, injury prevention coordinator for Hancock Public Health.
Fourteen additional deaths are waiting for a final ruling from the coroner’s office. Pruitt said those 14 deaths are not likely to all be overdoses.
In comparison, between January and September 2017, Pruitt said the health agency confirmed 12 overdose deaths. There ended up being 30 total overdose deaths in 2017, twice as many as in 2016.
This year, all of the seven overdose cases list opiates as contributing to the deaths, Pruitt said. Five of the deaths cited fentanyl, one listed heroin, and one just listed “opioids,” she said.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid or painkiller, first developed in the 1960s. It’s 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine.
Pruitt said there aren’t specific reasons why overdoses are lower this year.
“The opiate issue is such a complex issue,” she said. “Each individual person has their own unique story.”
Pruitt said the seven confirmed overdose deaths involved five men and two women, who ranged in age from 25 to 36, the “stereotypical age” of overdose deaths.
Overdose deaths in Hancock County in 2017 involved people ranging in age from 24 to 62.