‘Deeply disturbing’: DC Council members react to increase in opioid overdose deaths

The number of people dying from opioid overdoses is up significantly in D.C., and some city leaders are calling for quick action to address it.

A new report finds there were 220 opioid deaths in the nation’s capital during the first 10 months of last year. That’s a 22% increase over the same time period in 2018.

D.C. Council member Vincent Gray, who chairs the Committee on Health, called the report “deeply disturbing,” and he wants to see an urgent response.

“This needs to be an all out, hands-on-deck effort, ladies and gentlemen, and we must do everything we can in our power to get the word out about the dangers of fentanyl, and we must turn these statistics around over this next quarter,” Gray said during Friday’s committee meeting.

Council member David Grosso, who is also committee member, called the report “incredibly upsetting for all of us, especially the implications for our young residents here in the District who are taking these chances with their lives and are probably not even fully aware of the implications of what they’re doing.”

Grosso said the city needs to do a better job of educating young people about the risks of using drugs, and more mental health services are needed in schools.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter and anchor at WTOP.

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