Return to In the News

Report: Twin County overdoses down since 2021

While the number of reported drug overdoses in the Twin Counties spiked in 2021, the numbers went down between 2022 and 2023 in Greene County, and remained even in Columbia County, according to data released by the Columbia-Greene Addiction Coalition.

In 2023, there were 81 reported overdoses in Columbia County, a zero percent increase from 2022, however, the total number of fatal overdoses increased 33%, from nine in 2022 to 12 in 2023.

The coalition tracks overdoses and deaths using ODMAP, a system used by first responders to report and map overdoses.

The ODMAP system only accounts for overdoses that are responded to by first responders, said Hannah Calhoun, executive director of the Columbia-Greene Addiction Coalition.

“It’s based on overdoses that they were called to,” she said. “There are perhaps overdoses occurring that they may not know about.”

To make up for that discrepancy, the organization also compares data with toxicology reports from either the Columbia County Coroner’s Office or Greene County Coroner’s Office, Calhoun said.

“The [ODMAP] data is more accurate by then comparing it [the data] with the toxicology reports,” she said.

The number of reported overdoses in Columbia County fell 10% compared to 2021, from 90 total overdoses to 81.

In Greene County, reported overdoses decreased 33%, from 130 in 2021 to 87 in 2023.

The increase in overdoses in 2021 was mainly due to the pandemic, said Veronica Salvas, an epidemiologist for the Greene County Department of Health.

“This spike happened nationwide, and a couple of different things happened,” she said. “On a personal level, there was a disruption in people’s lives, and a lot of people in recovery relapsed or risk-taking behavior went up. There was also a disruption in the drug supply, so the dope got dirtier. We also started to see more polysubstance abuse, people were mixing drugs because of the supply chain issues.”

The fatality rate of reported overdoses in 2023 also increased in both counties, to 15% in Columbia County and 14% in Greene County.

Over a five year period, from 2019-23, the combined fatality rate was 12.5% and 11.8% in Columbia and Greene County, respectively.

The fatality rate has increased because of increased toxicity in the drug supply, Calhoun said.

“We understand that overdoses increase because the majority of the drugs are contaminated,” she said. “If you’re using illicit substances, you should assume it’s laced with fentanyl or even xylazine. People are also taking that into their own hands with not only Narcan, but test strips.”

Read the complete article