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Overdose deaths in Lancaster County are down in the first three months of 2018, compared to the same period last year, new data show.

There were 36 overdose deaths in the first quarter of 2018, down from 47 in 2017, according to data from the Lancaster County coroner’s office.

The information was part of a slideshow at Friday’s Joining Forces Coalition seminar, where groups from around the county come together to share data and strategize about how to combat the opioid epidemic.

But while overdoses led to fewer deaths, they were responsible for a slight increase in emergency room visits.

ER visits for overdoses involving any drug accounted for 0.761 per 1,000 visits in the first quarter of 2018, up from 0.620 per 1,000 in the same period last year, according to data from Pennsylvania’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

Alice Yoder, director of community health for Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, said the correlation between more ER visits and fewer deaths is due to greater community awareness of the signs and seriousness of an overdose, and to the work of Joining Forces, which is leading more people to go or take loved ones to the hospital when they are in need. Greater awareness, in conjunction with the increased availability of the opioid-overdose antidote naloxone, leads to fewer deaths, she said.

For more information on drug use in Lancaster County or the Joining Forces Coalition, visit

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