By Pepper Fisher

PORT ANGELES – Clallam County’s rate of overdose deaths has reached an all-time high this year. That’s according to Deputy Coroner Nathan Millet.

Millet says it’s no secret what’s causing the problem: the abundant availability of fentanyl and methamphetamine.

“For the longest time the county was averaging about one fatal drug overdose a month. You know, some years less a little less, some years a little more, but over of course of about a 10-year period you see about one a month. In 2016 the county had its worst year when it had 18 fatal drug overdoses. That was the worst year the county had had. So far this year, we’ve had 21 confirmed, with an additional, suspected, 25. We’re on pace to finish around 50. So, it represents a spike in numbers. It’s not an upward trend, it’s a spike. So it definitely keeps me busy, keeps everyone busy over at the prosecutor’s office and law enforcement, trying to figure out how best to deal with it.”

Millet said he’s seeing a lot of overdoses among people who are using meth, a powerful stimulant, together with fentanyl, a powerful sedative, and the human body, in his words, “just doesn’t know what to do with it.”

Millet says another issue is that the life-saving drug Narcan is often significantly less effective in these types of overdoses. Often people come back briefly from an overdose, only to die soon after, despite receiving multiple doses.

Millet says overdoses now account for the vast majority of deaths he investigates, and he says when it comes gender and age, the victims may not be who you’d think.

“Back in the day, it seemed like it was more men than women. Now, it’s about a 50-50 split here in our county. We have a little bit of an older population segment here in our county, so that kind of skews our numbers, but most people tend to be in their 40s, 50s, even into their 60s. The oldest overdose that I’ve worked was a person in their 80s. So, it doesn’t discriminate. You know, people can overdose it at any age, but it tends to, kind of, the 40s and 50s is what we’re getting.”