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injury and violence prevention (IVP) Branch

​​Overdose Prevention Initiative (OPI)

This webpage will expire in 2023. Please see our new Overdose Prevention Initiative site.

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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