Opioid Overdoses in the Fairfax Health District

This dashboard provides information about opioid overdoses occurring in Fairfax Health District. Please see the Notes and FAQ sections below the dashboard.

February 16, 2023: To increase transparency and community awareness, the Fairfax County Health Department has updated the Opioid Overdoses Dashboard. These changes better inform residents about trends in non-fatal and fatal opioid overdoses in the Fairfax Health District. See details at: Opioid Overdose Dashboard Updated to Highlight Emerging Threats.


  • All data are preliminary and may change as additional case information is obtained. Recent data on fatal opioid overdoses likely underestimates the true number of fatalities as some investigations may be ongoing.
  • Not all non-fatal opioid overdoses will be reported to ESSENCE as some may not result in a visit to an emergency department or urgent care center or be recognized using the Fairfax County Health Department’s opioid overdose case definition. 
  • Case definitions for non-fatal opioid overdoses may be refined as new types of opioids appear in our community, and as data quality reviews of current case definitions are performed. With these refinements, some cases may be reclassified as non-opioid overdoses. In addition, some overdoses not previously recognized as opioid overdoses may be newly identified as such. The Fairfax County Health Department will report updates to case definitions here as they occur.


The dashboard is needed to inform the public of the trends in opioid overdoses in the Fairfax Health District. We want everyone to know that, while there may be differences in the risk of overdose from one person to another, everyone who uses substances or is prescribed opioids is at risk of overdose. We also want to keep the public informed on the trends (up or down) of overdoses, which reflect both the size of the problem and the extent of the County’s activities to counteract the effects of the opioid overdose epidemic on county residents.

The dashboard uses two primary sources of information. The first is the Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics (ESSENCE). The ESSENCE system receives notifications from emergency rooms and urgent care centers in the Fairfax Health District about the number of visits they receive, the chief complaints of patients, and the diagnoses given by the healthcare providers at the end of the visit. Staff at the Fairfax County Health Department have an agreement with the Virginia Department of Health for access to ESSENCE data.

The second source of information is the Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME). Virginia is a medical examiner state. As a result, every death that is “suspicious, unexpected and sudden” is investigated by the OCME. The medical examiner posts information on drug overdose-related deaths on their website.

The dashboard will be updated every month during the first week of the month. Annotations on the dashboard will indicate when the last update to the dashboard happened.

Non-fatal opioid overdose counts may differ from external reports developed by other agencies due to differences in case definitions. 

Find more information about the opioid epidemic and how the Fairfax County Government and its community partners are working to end it. 

Fairfax Virtual Assistant