Ohio is at the top of the list for opioid overdoses
It is fair to say that just about every state in the country has felt the ramifications of the opioid epidemic. Drugs like Oxycontin, Fentanyl, and heroin have ravaged communities throughout the nation, leaving thousands of families grieving the loss of a loved one, and many more stuck suffering through years of substance abuse. However, as bad as thing have gotten across the country, a new report shows that no state has suffered worse than Ohio.
Those close to the problem say that the findings of the report do not come as a surprise, as the state has been experiencing issues with opioids for years now, but with a population of a little over 3% of the total US population, it is nonetheless alarming that such a small subsection can represent such a large portion of opioid overdoses.
In 2014 Ohio had an astounding 2,106 opioid related deaths, which was 7.4% of the national total of 28,647 deaths. That year 1 in 9 deaths related to heroin occurred in Ohio, which amounts to 1,208 deaths out the 10,574 that occurred nationally, and 1 in 14 deaths from synthetic opioids occurred in the state, meaning 590 deaths out of 5,544 happened within the state borders.
When the number of overdoses for 2015 was released this past fall by the Center for Disease Control, Ohio saw an increase of 45% overall. The 2014 number of 2,106 surged to 3,050 opioid related deaths, which gave Ohio the unfortunate distinction of being the Overdose Capital of the United States for the second year in a row. While the numbers for 2016 won’t be calculated for another 9 months, they are expected to move well past 2015’s benchmark, due to the influx of carfentanil and fentanyl into the state.
In August of last year Cincinnati police reported that there were 78 opioid related overdoses in just 2 days. This number is staggering and was the direct result of heroin being laced with the strong opioid carfentanil.
Carfentanil is a large animal tranquilizer and a synthetic opioid that is 10,000 times more powerful than morphine. While there was quite a media frenzy around this drug when reports started to flood in that heroin was being laced with it throughout the country, Ohio is really the only state to have had a massive problem with it. There were more seizures of the drug in Ohio than any other place in the US, which may possibly be because of its close proximity to Canada, where a number of large shipments of the drug were seized at the border, but it also speaks to the fact that there is strong market for the drug in Ohio area.
Cincinnati isn’t the only city to experience an issue with carfentanil, but Akron police reported that during 21 days in July there were 236 drug overdoses and 14 fatalities, all of which have suspected links to the drug.
The issue of opioid overdoses in the state became such a problem that state officials made a deal with the manufacture of Narcan, a life saving drug that counteracts the effects of an opioid overdose, to freeze the price of the 4 mg Narcan nasal spray at $75 throughout the next year. Ohio is the only state to have made an agreement like this with the manufacture, and the hope is that by having more of the drug available to first responders, there will be less overdose related deaths in the coming year.
In many ways what Ohio is currently experiencing is the manifestation of a problem that has been mounting for years. Ever since the introduction of Oxycontin into American markets in 1996, there has been a ticking time bomb of addiction waiting to explode. While the drug was initially lauded as being a safer and less addictive alternative to traditional opiates, it was found in the years after that this claim was categorically untrue, and the liberal prescribing of the drug, and its derivatives, caused an entire generation of people to suffer needlessly from addiction.
People in Ohio are now feeling the fallout from the effects that Oxycontin had on this country and while the state has implemented laws and regulations in order to make it more difficult for addicts to get these opioids, many people have moved onto harder drugs as a result.
What 2017 will bring for the state of Ohio remains to be seen, but if the shift in political agendas and public perception surrounding addiction is any indicator then improvement may be just around the corner.
Last year, as a country, we reached what possibly may be looked back upon historically as a tipping point in the War on Drugs. President Obama and many other public officials spoke out against the horrors of drug addiction and the failure of our national policies in curbing these problems. A number of laws were introduced in order to help with the problem and they were backed by constant media exposure on the issue, all of which elevated the public’s awareness of what is really going on in regards to drug addiction in this country. While just being aware of a problem does not necessarily mean that the problem will change, it is at the very least a promising first step in moving away from the head in the sand approach we have taken for so many years, and towards a more proactive tactic. How this will play out, no one can say, but for Ohio and so many other state’s sakes, let’s hope it means less deaths and more people receiving help.
Rose Lockinger is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.