GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — A large majority of opioid overdose victims in Atlantic County who received naloxone, the overdose antidote nasal spray, from an emergency responder survived the overdose, according to a study by Stockton University.
In early 2018, Stockton collaborated with the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office to analyze information on 311 overdose victims to get a better understanding of the county’s opioid overdose statistics.
In 2017, there were 169 drug-related deaths in Atlantic County. Those deaths spiked the next year, rising to 190.
While fatal overdoses rose in Atlantic County last year, a report published last month by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed a 5.1% drop in fatal drug overdoses across the country from 2017 to 2018.
It suggested that an increase in naloxone prescriptions could be one reason overdose deaths have stopped rising for the first time in nearly three decades.
Using data that was collected from 2015 to 2017 through the N.J. Attorney General’s Heroin & Opiates Task Force naloxone administration reporting form for Atlantic County, 226 victims were administered naloxone out of a total 311. Missing data was noted on 29 reports. Among the others, the data showed 265 of the victims survived, 17 did not, a 94% survival rate. In most cases, the victims who received naloxone were revived in five minutes or less.
“The data showed that quick response to opioid overdoses and prompt administration of the drug naloxone can save lives,” the authors said in the report.
The study also showed that a majority of overdose victims during the study time frame were white men. More than half victims were under 35 years old, though overdoses were spread across all age groups.
While the victims’ residential addresses were widespread, the majority of overdose incidents were reported from Atlantic City (169 or 54%) followed by Somers Point (9%) Pleasantville (8%), Galloway (6%), Ventnor (6%), and Hammonton (5%).
About 40% of the overdoses happened between October and December.
The study also suggested a need for statewide resources to conduct more rigorous research in this area as “it will be critical to examine this problem with the intersection of race, age, and gender so appropriate policies can be drawn that suit specific population groups.”
The report was produced in collaboration with Captain Bruce DeShields, an investigator in the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, and authored by Executive Director of the Stockton Center for Community Engagement Merydawilda Colon, Professor of Public Health Tara Crowell, Distinguished Professor of Physical Therapy Mary Lou Galantino, Associate Provost, Carra Leah Hood, and Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Manish Madan.
Distinguished Professor of Physical Therapy Mary Lou Galantino said the study is just one of Stockton’s initiatives to compile data and research strategies that address opioid abuse, addiction and recovery in South Jersey.