Opioid Crisis Breakdown in Tarrant County




Conley, Mark
Judd, Dallin


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Purpose: It is undisputed that opioids, while they have inherent medicinal value, can be abused recreationally leading to devastating effects. According to the CDC, Texas had the 6th most related deaths from opioids in 2019[1]. There were 3136 opioid related deaths in 2019 in the state of Texas [1]. It has been noted by physicians that Tarrant County in particular has seen a high incidence. The purpose of this research was to quantify the data surrounding opioid use in Tarrant County. Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that overdose deaths from opioids have risen steadily across the country in the last decade with a sharper increase in the last few years [2]. Methods: Using a database from the Texas Department of State Health Services we identified all calls, visits, and deaths related to opioid use [3]. The following metrics were used: Total opioid related deaths in Tarrant County and opioid deaths filtered by age, sex, race, education status, and marital status in Tarrant County. Total emergency department (ED) visits and ED visits per 100,000 population and per 100,000 ED visits in Tarrant County. The type of opioid related to each ED visit in Tarrant County was quantified as well. Finally, poison center opioid-related calls were totalled in Tarrant County. Results: Out of 254 counties in the state of Texas, Tarrant County recorded the 5th highest number of opioid related deaths in 2019, with 75 total deaths and a rate of 8 per 100,000 population. These opioid related deaths were most focal in the age range of 18-44 (72%). Of the total deaths, 65% of them were white and 68% were male. Of note, 70% of the users who died were not married, while 30% were married. Of these deaths, the most significant portion were by non-heroin opioids (34%), followed by heroin users (15%). In addition, in 2019 there were 244 poison center calls related to opioids. Finally, in 2019 there were a total of 774 ED visits related to opioids, with a rate of 87.5 visits per 100,000 ED visits. Conclusions: As indicated in the results, both the state of Texas and Tarrant County have been negatively impacted by the epidemic rise in opioids. Texas has sought to alleviate some of the disparities, and funding was received by the U.S. government. Beginning in May 2017, under the Texas targeted Opioid Response Program, Texas has received over $280 million in federal funding to address the opioid crisis [4]. However, the data presented in the case report (objective opioid related outcomes in 2019) demonstrates that more needs to be done. In response to the high prevalence of deaths, emergency room visits, and opioid related calls, it is critical that Texas mounts a proportional response. This response may be both systemic and individualistic as people are educated on the effects of opioids and what they can do to prevent negative outcomes.