Source: Ohio Department of Health
Ohio’s opioid epidemic continued to evolve in 2016 with stronger drugs driving an increase in unintentional overdose deaths, according to a new report released by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH).
The report shows a sharp rise in overdose deaths involving the opioid fentanyl, the emergence of more deadly fentanyl-related drugs like carfentanil, and indications that cocaine is now being used with fentanyl and other opiates. The report also contains some promising news – the fewest prescription opioid overdose deaths since 2009.
Overdose deaths increased from 3,050 in 2015 to 4,050 last year, and fentanyl and related drugs were involved in 58.2% of them. By comparison, fentanyl was involved in 37.9% of overdose deaths in 2015, 19.9% in 2014, 4% in 2013 and 3.9% 2012. Illegally produced fentanyl can be hundreds of times stronger than heroin, and carfentanil and other related drugs can be even stronger. With the emergence of carfentanil in 2016, the fentanyl-related drug was involved in 340 overdose deaths, most of them during the second half of the year. The number of cocaine-related overdose deaths increased from 685 in 2015 to 1,109 in 2016 – a 61.9% increase. Of cocaine-related overdose deaths, 80.2% also involved an opiate, and 55.8% involved fentanyl and related opiates in particular. Of all unintentional drug overdose deaths, the percentage of prescription opioid-related deaths declined for the fifth straight year in 2016, and the number of such deaths declined 15.4% from 667 in 2015 to 564 in 2016, the fewest since 2009.
For more information, read the press release and Ohio’s comprehensive efforts to combat opioid abuse and overdose deaths.