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Ohio: Accidental drug overdose deaths climb in 2015

According to the Ohio Department of Health, the number of overdose deaths increased to 3,050 from 2,531 in the previous year. (MGN Online)

Health officials in the state of Ohio have released statistical data detailing unintentional drug overdose deaths in 2015.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, the number of overdose deaths increased to 3,050 from 2,531 in the previous year. The report also details the extreme rise in fentanyl-related deaths, up 1,275% since 2013.

Fentanyl-related deaths:

  • 2013- 84
  • 2014- 503
  • 2015- 1155

“Ohio was one of the first states to see the rise of fentanyl over the past couple of years, as the opiate epidemic continues to evolve to more powerful drugs,” said Dr. Mark Hurst, medical director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. “We knew when we started this battle five years ago that progress wouldn’t be easy, but we are well prepared to stay on the leading edge of fighting this epidemic thanks to the multi-faceted strategies we have put into place.”

ODH says fentayl is a drug that is 30 to 50 times stronger than heroin and 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Officials say most police seizures of the drug revealed the fentayl to be illegally produced and trafficked, not diverted from prescriptions.

The state reports naloxone was administered to overdose victims nearly 20,000 times in 2015, up from 7,207 in 2013. A campaign was started in May to urge families and friends of drug users to obtain naloxone and use it while waiting for first responders. That campaign focused on 15 Ohio counties, including Lucas, that accounted for 80 percent of fentanyl-related overdoses in 2014.

The report also shows the plateau of prescription opiate overdose deaths in throughout state. ODH believes it has been curbed due to work between physicians and the state to battle prescription abuses.

“In the midst of this growing opiate epidemic, we are seeing positive indications that our aggressive efforts are working to reduce opioid prescription pain medications available for abuse,” said ODH Medical Director Dr. Mary DiOrio “There were 81 million fewer opioid doses dispensed to Ohio patients since the state took initiatives to curb opiates, and the number of people who try to get controlled substances from multiple doctors has dramatically decreased. Also, the percentage of prescription opioid-related deaths compared to all unintentional overdose deaths declined in Ohio for the fourth straight year.”

Many state officials believe Ohio is among the best in the nation in applying new strategies to fight opiate abuse.

“The state has been very aggressive in implementing new strategies to strengthen Ohio’s fight against opiates, but we are reminded today of the difficult road ahead as the epidemic evolves at a rapid pace,” said Andrea Boxill, the coordinator of the Governor’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team and deputy director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. “In the face of the continued rise in drug overdoses, we believe that Ohio has one of the most comprehensive approaches in the nation to combatting opiate abuse and drug overdoses, and we will continue to evolve our efforts to address the changes that we are seeing in the drug market.”

The full report of the 2015 Ohio Drug Overdose Report is below.


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