BONIFAY -- Opiate-related deaths accounted for 59,000 lives last year nationwide. After President Donald Trump declared the epidemic a national health emergency, new reports signal the crisis at state and county levels.
In 2016, oxycodone and hydrocodone deaths were higher in Holmes than other counties in the 14th Judicial Circuit, which includes Washington, Jackson, Bay, Calhoun and Gulf counties, according to a report by Florida Department of Law Enforcement Medical Examiners Commission. And, in most cases, Holmes and Bay County led the circuit in opiate and illicit drug deaths.
The county-level data reflects on the staggering number of opiate-involved -- opiates present at time of death -- deaths across the state. The presence of opiates has risen 35 percent over last year. Prescription drugs account for 61 percent of all drug occurrences in the report, excluding ethyl alcohol, the report shows.
In Holmes County, just one person died of an opiate overdose in 2016, according to Holmes County Sheriff's Office.
In response to the epidemic, City of Panama City in Bay County will file a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors, with the intent to use the money from the suit to deal with the effects of the epidemic, a Nov. 14 article by sister-paper The News Herald stated.
Holmes County had a prescribing rate of 83.5 prescriptions per 100 people in the 2016 year, a decrease from a rate of 86.0 the previous year, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),
Washington, which had the highest rate in the state, and Bay rates for the same year were 124.7 and 121.2, respectively. The national rate was 66.5, the lowest it had been in 10 years.