The District of Columbia has experienced a pronounced rise in opioid overdoses both in terms of fatalities and non-fatal Emergency Medical Service encounters. In 2022 alone, there were over 4,000 non-fatal opioid overdose calls to the DC Fire and Emergency Medical Service and 448 fatal overdoses. The rate of non-fatal overdoses per year have increased 44% since 2018 and continue to climb in 2023. This rapid escalation of the opioid crisis has put considerable strain on law enforcement, public health and public safety infrastructure. In response to this problem, with funding from both the ESOOS and Overdose Data to Action grants, DC has constructed a robust data collection and dissemination pipeline which allows timely information to be shared between governmental departments through data sharing agreements. Additionally, this collection of high quality data allows the public to be informed of steps for prevention and harm reduction.
This grant willallow for the development and maintenance of several key technologies and datasets. ODMAP, for example, is an overdose tracking system utilized by the DOH which uses live overdose tracking from the DC Fire and Emergency Medical Service system to distribute spike alerts. This system is especially important with the rise of lethal opioid adulterants like fentanyl, which are now found in 96% of opioid samples. The fentanyl dominated opioid market increases the mortality rate of opioid overdoses and toxicologic surveillance supported by grant funding provides essential information on drug market trends, especially considering the introduction of new substances in DC like fluorofentanyl and xylazine.
DC is one of the most at-risk jurisdictions for opioid overdose in the country and innovative data collection and utilization techniques in collaboration with community partners have the potential for reducing the growth of addiction in the city. The importance of treatment in stemming the epidemic is pivotal, and this funding opportunity will address a pressing need to integrate treatment, prevention and surveillance in pursuit of ameliorated health outcomes and a drastic reduction in morbidity and mortality from drug use. We aim to arm our prevention entities with timely and robust data to inform their actions and deployment of resources, as well as maintain infrastructure like our Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and our existing work with community-based organizations.