HERNANDO COUNTY, FL – As the year comes to an end, Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis is cautioning family and friends of drug users to be aware of an alarming trend that has emerged in 2021 with an increase in the number of accidental drug overdose deaths being reported in Hernando County.
According to authorities, as of December 29, 2021, 75 overdose deaths have been confirmed in Hernando County, with an additional 13 cases likely to be confirmed by the Medical Examiner’s Office once each of those investigations are complete. The 75 confirmed accidental overdose deaths for 2021 are 38 more than were reported in 2020, an increase of nearly 103%. If/when, the 13 accidental overdose deaths that are currently pending are factored in, that percentage could jump to as high as 138%.
The year 2020 also saw an increase in accidental overdose deaths when the number rose from 28 in 2019 to 37 in 2020, an increase of 32 percent. The number of reported accidental overdoses without death responded to by the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office is also on the rise. Authorities say it should be noted that this data on accidental overdoses without death does not reflect responses that fire rescue has responded to without requesting law enforcement. The number went from 150 reported accidental overdoses without death in 2020 to 244 in 2021, an increase of nearly 63%. The numbers were even worse in 2020 when the number of reported accidental overdoses went from 28 to 150, an increase of 436%.
To combat the increase seen in both accidental overdoses and accidental overdose deaths, deputies with the Hernando County Sheriff’s office began carrying Narcan in July of 2019. Narcan, or Naloxone, is a medication that can rapidly reverse an opioid overdose. A common statement made by addicts and/or associates of drug addicts pertains to “knowing their limits.”
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The numbers above are proof that not only do addicts not know their limits, they do not know what “other” ingredients or illegal substances have been introduced to their drug of choice. Family and friends are encouraged to be especially cautious due to the fact that many drug users will overindulge during New Year’s celebrations, which could potentially result in their untimely death.