Opioid overdose deaths down in Jacksonville last year

New numbers show opioid overdose deaths were down in Jacksonville in 2018.

The city saw more than 500 overdose deaths in 2017. There were 311 last year, although the final  number is likely to be a little higher because of pending cases.

Overdoses were down 20% from 2017, and Narcan doses administered were down 27 percent.

Advocates say it’s a step in the right direction.

“People are really beginning to understand this isn’t a 30-day solution,” said Tricia McCauley-Cox.

McCauley-Cox has been an advocate for opioid addiction awareness because of her son, Max.

Max McCauley died after an overdose nearly five years ago, after fighting addiction for 14 years.

“He would not even know he had taken too much,” his mother told us.

City leaders believe the improved numbers are the result of its program, Project Save Lives.

The program, in effect since late 2017, stabilizes overdose patients in local hospitals and puts them directly into recovery programs.

Project Save Lives will soon partner with Park West ER on 103rd Street, the area with the highest overdose rate in the city.

McCauley-Cox is holding a yoga class fundraiser in March, when it will be five years since her son’s death.

All proceeds go to the Gateway Community Services Foundation.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, March 30, at 5 p.m. It’s being held at the San Marco Church.