OD Deaths


The Ventura County Rx Abuse & Heroin Workgroup began tracking and analyzing prescription opioid and heroin data at its inception in 2012. In 2014, Local Trend Data at a Glance 2008–2014 was first published, presenting relevant indicators that established the baselines for measuring and responding to the multifaceted opioid crisis.

The workgroup remains committed to supporting ongoing data analysis to guide and evaluate collaborative actions addressing Rx and heroin abuse. Special local research has included youth treatment program participants, the jail inmate population, drug-impaired driving statistics, and analysis of overdose deaths.


“Unless we know where we stand, we’re not going to be able to continuously improve.”  – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, Atlanta, 2016

Prescription drugs account for most overdose deaths (63%), far above other substance categories:

  • 25% alcohol-related
  • 24% heroin-related
  • 18% illicit-drug related

 od deaths graphic english


To increase the Ventura County Rx Abuse & Heroin Workgroup’s understanding of fatal overdoses, research specialist Kayleigh Hunnicutt, MA, MEd, examined countywide data provided by the Ventura County Medical Examiner Office. The intention was to quantify overdose deaths within the community by way of examining the number of annual substance-related overdose deaths reported by the Medical Examiner Office. Over time, the report has evolved to include more nuanced examinations of available variables, and has become part of broader discussions about prevention and intervention efforts within Ventura County to address factors related to overdose fatalities.

Drug-Related Deaths in Ventura County 2008–2014 confirms the urgent need for an ongoing countywide, collaborative approach to protecting and saving lives from the damage of prescription opioid and heroin abuse. As Medical Examiner data from subsequent years are gathered, analyzed and compared with other metrics, we will continue to develop responsive strategies and build resources to drive down the damaging impacts of fatal and nonfatal drug overdoses.

Following are a few select findings from the in-depth study, Drug-Related Deaths in Ventura County 2008–2014. This report has become an important part of a broader discussion of prevention and interventions within our region.

  1. Prescription drugs account for most overdose deaths (63%), far above other substance categories (25% alcohol-related, 24% heroin-related, and 18% illicit drug-related).
  2. The majority of overdose deaths were opioid-related, either heroin or opioid Rx drugs.

ODdeaths VC linegraph rev r7

  1. Most of the overdose deaths were due to the use of multiple substances:

68% consumed two or more different substances. Only 32% of overdose deaths were related to an overdose of one single substance.

  1. Overdose deaths were primarily accidental (76% to 86% during 2008–2014) compared with 14% to 24% intentional or suicidal overdose.
  2. The patterns of overdose deaths vary by county geographic region, calling for further jurisdictional analysis and recommendations.


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