Santa Barbara County's drug-related deaths and visits to emergency rooms continued to exceed the statewide average in 2018.
The California Department of Public Health released the 2018 county-level data Friday, providing statistics on emergency room visits and preliminary deaths related to drugs, including opioids.
According to a press release, 648 non-fatal drug-related ER visits were recorded during 2018 among Santa Barbara County residents.
The statistics show that opioid-related visits to emergency rooms had steadily increased compared to the state average, rising by more than 55% from 2010 to 2018.
Overall, in 2018 there were 69 drug-related deaths with nearly half, 31 deaths, related to opioids.
Health officials say a trend has also emerged in recent years, with a greater percentage of opioid overdose deaths found to be related to the synthetic opioid, fentanyl.
Statistics show that in 2018, 29% of opioid overdose deaths were related to fentanyl, which is a 9% increase from 2015.
"Recent drug overdose trends in Santa Barbara County are concerning. Rates of ED visits for drug overdoses, including opioids, are higher in Santa Barbara County than California. The most critical interventions to prevent future overdoses are local harm reduction strategies and substance use disorder treatment programs that provide medications for opioid use disorder. In order to address drug overdoses in the community, the Public Health Department will continue to work collaboratively with community partners," shared Senior Epidemiologist, Joy Kane.
With these numbers being released on the eve of International Overdose Awareness Day, Santa Barbara County Public Health officials say thay are committed to working with community partners to ensure these trends do not continue.