High overdose death rates not caused by high drug use level


Most people think Ohio has high levels of drug use. We do not. Ohio has average average levels of drug use (and always has). What Ohio has is horrifically high levels of drug overdose death.

In other words, Ohio is killing people who use drugs at extraordinary rates. The problem is not that Ohioans use drugs at unusual rates. What has Ohio done that has turned average levels of drug use into some of the worst rates of drug overdose death in the country?  

Ohio has spent large amounts of money trying to prevent drug use or treat it. It hasn’t worked because it’s the wrong variable to focus on. There’s nothing unusual about drug use in Ohio. The right variable to move is the level of danger/safety in our state’s drug supply.

The first response to the overdose epidemic has to be: Let’s stop killing Ohioans who use drugs.

Drug checking, safe consumption sites and, most importantly, ending the drug war are how to significantly reduce overdose death.It’s time to stop blaming people who use drugs for the catastrophe that has befallen them. Many states have far higher levels of drug use and much lower levels of overdose death. The rate at which Ohioans who use drugs die from accidental overdoses (5,300 in 2021 alone) is the problem.Our first priority has to be: Stop killing people who use drugs.

Treatment and prevention have value but should not be used as cover to make it appear we are trying to reduce overdose death. Drug use can cause problems. Death on the current scale should not be one of them.

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