The American Medical Association released a news brief document one month ago with a headline that read: : Nation’s drug-related overdose and death epidemic continues to worsen.

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No Escape In Yakima

Yakima is no place to hide from the national tragedy of overdose deaths.

Today, The Yakima Health District's (YHD) press release headline reads: Drug Overdose Deaths Continue to Increase in Yakima County.

The latest statistics from YHD compare 2021 to 2020 but in conversations with the Yakima County Coroner, overdose deaths continue at an unacceptable high pace,

Each Number Is A Life Lost

According to data from the Yakima County Coroner’s Office, 98 residents died of a drug overdose last year, representing a 34% increase from the 73 deaths reported in 2020. In line with statewide and national trends.

Of the overdose deaths that occurred in 2020 and 2021, more than 60% involved opioids, with fentanyl being the most common opioid involved in those deaths. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.  Due to its high potency, even small doses of fentanyl can lead to a fatal overdose. Fentanyl is often manufactured illegally and has been increasingly found in heroin, methamphetamine, and counterfeit prescription pills.

The Invisible Assassin

County. Jim Curtice, Yakima County Coroner:

Counterfeit pills are extremely deadly and are causing a considerable amount of pain and suffering to residents in Yakima County, as well as throughout Washington and the United States

It is nearly impossible to tell if a drug has been laced with fentanyl, which increases the risk of accidental overdose and death.

How To Recognize An Overdose

The County Health District says the potential signs of an opioid overdose include:

  • • Small, constricted “pinpoint pupils”
  • • Falling asleep or losing consciousness
  • • Slow, weak, or no breathing • Choking or gurgling sounds
  • • Limp body
  • • Cold and/or clammy skin
  • • Discolored skin (especially in lips and nails)

Where To Find Help

Community members are also encouraged to properly dispose of unused or expired medications at medication take-back locations in Yakima County. More information is available at: www.TakeBackYourMeds.org.

If you need help with substance abuse or know someone who does, call the Washington Recovery Help Line at 1-866-789-1511. - Andre Fresco, Executive Director, Yakima Health District.

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