Calhoun County has been experiencing an opioid related death rate nearly twice that of the entire state. The 2018 data is being released by the Calhoun County Public Health Department. The Calhoun County report shows a death rate from opioids is at 36.4 per 100 thousand residents. The state rate is at 20.4.

The Health Department is reporting that fentanyl related deaths went up sharply from 6 in 2015,to 38 last year.  Fentanyl can be obtained both legally, and illegally. County Medical Director Dr. William Nettleton describes fentanyl as the driving force behind the county’s problem saying it poses a serious health threat. An opioid is a drug that eases pain and may also cause feelings of extreme pleasure. Opioids act on the brain and nerves. They can include both prescription medications and illegal drugs like heroin. Opioids can be addictive with regular use, or misuse.

Dr. Nettleton also points to related health issues across the county resulting from misuse of opioids including  injecting drugs, sharing paraphernalia, and high risk sexual behavior.  Those  factors lead to infections, including Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV, Hepatitis A and sexually transmitted infections.He is recommending a new and more focused county and community wide approach to fighting the epidemic.