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1:29 AM Sun, Sept. 23rd

MatForce survey looks at accidental overdose deaths

Many die from mixing drugs, medical examiner says

A 15-month examination of nine accidental drug overdose deaths in Yavapai County, backed by MatForce, concluded that “it’s not an opioid crisis, but a drug crisis,” according to Executive Director Merilee Fowler.

The report, produced by the Yavapai County Overdose Fatality Review Board, noted that there were 80 drug-related deaths in the county in 2016, and of those, many died from what the medical examiner calls “mixed drug intoxication.”

“It’s not just one drug, such as heroin, that alone is the problem,” Fowler said. “Every drug is a problem.”

The study researched three overdose fatalities in Prescott; two in Prescott Valley; two in Cottonwood; one in Mayer; and one in Black Canyon City.

The group noted several common factors in the nine deaths examined:

• 8 of 9 had reported mental illness

• 7 of 9 had received outpatient substance abuse treatment

• 5 of 9 had received inpatient substance abuse treatment

• 5 of 9 were on probation or parole at the time of death

• 7 of 9 were homeless at the time of death

• 6 of 9 had used alcohol and marijuana at an early age

A third of the nine-page report is devoted to offering recommendation from the Overdose Fatality Review Board, aimed at treatment facilities, law enforcement, and the medical community. Prevention as a whole is also addressed.

“The work of the review board is truly ground-breaking,” MatForce co-chairwoman and Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk said. “Their recommendations will not gather dust on a shelf. The next phase calls for implementation planning to make the recommendations a reality.”

A meeting to discuss that will be held at 9 a.m., Jan. 5. Anyone interested in attending can call MatForce at 928-708-0100.

The full report is available on the group’s website, matforce.org.