Health

Orange County fatal drug overdoses hit 10-year high

File photo.
File photo.
Daniel Anderson/California Watch

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Orange County is seeing high numbers when it comes to their annual fatal drug overdoses. It just hit its highest point in the last 10 years. 

According to preliminary coroner data, there were 400 deaths from drug overdoses last year. This number could still climb because there are pending toxicology reports from 2015, Bruce Lyle from the Orange County Sheriff’s Coroner’s Office told KPCC. 

This number started to gradually rise beginning in 2005, when there were 246 deaths. Although it's steadily been on the rise, Lyle said it isn't that shocking. 

“It hasn’t really come as a surprise — it’s increased gradually, but still fairly sharply,” Lyle said.  

Starting in 2010, the office began communicating with other police departments and their own postmortem toxicology division. They found some numbers that correlated with substance abuse in people arrested, although they weren't fatal cases.

The annual data doesn't show specific demographics, like race, income or exact areas in Orange County, according to Lyle. Pinpointing those areas is difficult and complicated, Lyle said. They would need to identify where the person lived, where they took the drugs and where they died from the overdose.

Finding where they took the drugs is the hardest to determine, he told KPCC, because most people in those areas don't like to talk to the police. 

Other counties have also been seeing the same kind of trends, he said, but are trying to keep ahead of the curve on new drugs.