Case Study: California Health Care Foundation Shines a Local Lens on the Opioid Epidemic

Alameda County's report card is one of 25 local stories on opioid safety data in California.

Alameda County's report card is one of 25 local stories on opioid safety data in California.

Overdoses from opioids—synthetic prescription painkillers, heroin, and related drugs—claim over 30,000 lives each year. That’s a higher number of deaths than firearm-related homicides, and it’s more than quadruple the number of annual opioid-related deaths in the late 1990’s.

California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) is on the front lines of this public health crisis.  LiveStories partnered with CHCF to produce opioid safety data reports for 17 local coalitions throughout California. Each story examines the local data surrounding opioid prescription and use in the coalitions’ counties. Charts show trends over the past few years, and they compare how the county measures up to California as a whole.

While all the stories are based on the same master datasets—supplied by the California Department of Public Health and the state’s Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System—each coalition’s version has its own local focus. The landscape of opioid use varies greatly across California, so providing local stories to partner coalitions on the ground can highlight the unique challenges each community faces.

Opioid overdoses are a national epidemic, but the crisis first and foremost affects communities. Local hospital staffs must deal with opioid overdoses. Heroin users—and dealers—are a serious problem for local law enforcement. And the loss of life and vitality hollows out families and their local connections.

A screenshot from a "teaser" version of a local opioid safety data report.

A screenshot from a "teaser" version of a local opioid safety data report.

At LiveStories, we've learned from working with local communities that building a compelling, impactful data story from scratch on such a dire, complex topic as opioid misuse can be a tall order. So we took the approach of giving CHCF something to start with that they then tailored to their own local needs.

We worked closely with CHCF and its communication partner, i.e. communications, to put together 25 of these stories for 17 coalitions. We provided content that our partners used to achieve local change via data. We'd be happy to roll up our sleeves and collaborate with other partners on this, too. 


The opioid safety data reports are linked below for each available county in California:

Alameda | Humboldt | Lake | Lassen | Los Angeles | Marin | Mendocino | Monterey  | Napa | NevadaOrange | Placer | Plumas | San Diego | San Luis Obispo | Santa ClaraSanta Cruz | ShastaSierra | SiskiyouSonoma | Tuolumne | VenturaYolo