County-by-county: Cocaine overtakes heroin in overdose deaths in Ohio
What’s happening where you live?
Harm Reduction Ohio reported Thursday that cocaine is now the most frequent drug involved in fatal overdoses in Ohio because of its contamination with fentanyl, carfentanil and other chemical analogs. In this article, we provide a county-by-county look at how fast drug overdoses are changing in Ohio.
In 2016, heroin overdoses outnumbered those for cocaine by 335. In 2017, the pattern had reversed itself — and then some. So far, the state reports cocaine was involved in 423 more overdose deaths than heroin. And that’s comparing partial 2017 data to complete numbers from 2016.
As of January 11, 2018, the Ohio Department of Health has received reports of 3,480 accidental drug overdose deaths and put them in its publicly available mortality database. Ohio’s drug overdose death toll will approach or exceed 5,000 in 2017, making last year the worst ever for overdose deaths.
The movement of fentanyl into Ohio’s cocaine (and meth) supply is driving yet another tragic acceleration of death in Ohio.
Harm Reduction Ohio is asking state and local health authorities to take immediate steps to address this change in Ohio’s opioid epidemics, starting by issuing public health alerts as has been done in Canada, and other states in the U.S..
“This is not just a heroin or opioid epidemic,” says Dennis Cauchon, president of Harm Reduction Ohio, a drug policy reform group. “Fentanyl has contaminated the entire illegal drug supply, except marijuana and mushrooms. We need to change our law enforcement and regulatory approach so we stop making the epidemic worse.”