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injury and violence prevention (IVP) Branch

​​Overdose Prevention Initiative (OPI)

The opioid epidemic is dynamic, complex, and rapidly changing. Data indicates that California has reduced unsafe prescribing; however, even with this decrease, prescription opioids are still the leading cause of opioid overdose deaths. Additionally, the number of overdose deaths related to heroin, fentanyl, and amphetamines is increasing. 

  • Opioid-related overdose deaths totaled 2,428 in 2018, nearly half involving prescription opioids, for a 42% increase since 2012.
  • Emergency Department visits related to any opioid overdose totaled 8,832 in 2018.
  • Prescription-related opioid deaths (excluding synthetics) peaked in 2009 at 1,483 deaths, and decreased in 2018 to 1,091 deaths (a 26% decrease) indicating progress on promoting safe opioid prescribing practices.
  • The total number of prescriptions dispensed has decreased 14%, from 23 million in 2010, to 19.8 million in 2018.
  • Heroin overdose deaths have increased 117% since 2012, from 361 to 785 in 2018.
  • Fentanyl overdose deaths have shown a steep increase of 858% from 82 in 2012 to 786 in 2018.
  • Amphetamine overdose deaths have increased 212% from 777 in 2012 to 2,427 in 2018.
Source: California Opioid Overdose Surveillance Dashboard

California's Approach

The State of California is leveraging a multi-pronged, strategic collaboration at both the state and local levels to build a comprehensive approach to address the opioid epidemic. This includes coordination of efforts through:

  • Implementing a statewide multi-agency workgroup; 
  • Changing policies of public payer healthcare systems;
  • Mandating the use of the prescription drug monitoring program (CURES); 
  • Expanding medication assisted treatment (MAT) services availability and access; 
  • Implementing a naloxone distribution program; 
  • Increasing access to naloxone through pharmacies; 
  • Educating physicians and pharmacists; 
  • Supporting local opioid safety coalitions, and;
  • Implementing public education campaigns for youth, seniors, and high burden rural counties.
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