What Ohio needs: Targeted Narcan distribution by laypersons
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Zip code 43511 for Grand Rapids, Ohio, in rural Wood County, has the state’s highest overdose death rate.

The zip codes listed below had the highest rates of overdose death in Ohio from January 2018 through October 2020. Worst overdose death rate in Ohio? Zip code 43522, a lightly populated area in Wood County that includes the Village of Grand Rapids (pop. 1,000), about 30 miles south of Toledo. (The deadliest Ohio zip code is shown in the map above.)

Under the list of the zip codes with the highest overdose death rates is list of zip codes with the highest number of overdose deaths in Ohio. All zip codes that have suffered 50 or more overdose deaths since 2018 are listed. The worst? It’s a sad tie: 99 overdose deaths in the 45406 zip code (Dayton) and the 45140 zip code (Loveland, about 20 miles north of Cincinnati).

The analysis was done by Orman Hall, an executive in residence for Ohio University’s College of Health Sciences and Professions and an analyst with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation, at the request of Harm Reduction Ohio. Hall is a former drug policy advisor to Gov. John Kasich and a former executive director of the Fairfield County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health (ADAMH) Board. analyst with the CDC Foundation

Orman Hall

Harm Reduction Ohio added descriptions of the zip codes. For confidentiality reasons, the data only includes zip codes in which ten or more overdose deaths occurred during the period studied. Note: Ohio has about 1,300 zip codes.

How to save lives: Distribute Narcan in high-mortality zip codes

Harm Reduction Ohio has used Hall’s analysis of high-mortality zip codes to target online education and advertising to promote naloxone distribution via our online Narcan distribution program. Because of a lack of funding, we have not often been able to target specific high mortality zip codes for on-the-ground layperson naloxone distribution. (An Interact for Health foundation grant has supported targeted distribution in a few Cincinnati area zip codes.)

Ohio’s lack of focus on high-mortality areas and specific populations is regrettable. Even though targeted distribution can be hard to do and nearly impossible without the right talent (i.e., people with lived and shared experience), targeted layperson distribution — the type that Harm Reduction Ohio does — is the gold standard of naloxone distribution. It is the most effective (and cost effective) way to get Narcan where it needs to be when an overdose happens, at the moment between life and death

The use of trusted community laypersons is especially crucial for overdoses involving meth and cocaine that contains fentanyl. And it’s especially true in rural areas — Wood County, for example, because despite having the deadliest zip code in all of Ohio, no organization in Wood County — not even the local health department! — participates in Project DAWN, the state’s naloxone distribution effort. 

Distribute naloxone equitably 

Nathaniel Jordan II, Columbus Kappa Foundation

Layperson naloxone distribution is especially important to reach African Americans in high mortality areas. Overall, Ohio’s naloxone distribution efforts have skewed to White residents, even though for the last two years Black Ohioans have had higher overdose death rates than White Ohioans.

The Columbus Kappa Foundation, which operates the largest Project DAWN program aimed at the African American Community, is an example of effective layperson distribution. The foundation’s executive director Nathaniel Jordan II has built an amazing program that distributes naloxone in churches, barbershops and other community locations where people who need it can be found.

More crucial data coming from HRO

In the next few days, Harm Reduction Ohio will publish a list of the highest mortality zip codes in Ohio for:

  • overdose deaths among Black Ohio residents.
  • methamphetamine deaths among Ohio residents.
  • cocaine overdose deaths among Ohio residents.

If you are from any of the zip codes mentioned and interested in distributing naloxone, please contact Harm Reduction Ohio and we will try to get you going to the extent that our research allow.

Let’s save some lives together!


Ohio Zip Codes with Highest Overdose Death Rates

(January 2018 through October 2020)

To download the list, CLICK HERE.


Ohio Zip Codes with Highest Total Overdose Deaths  

(January 2018 through October 2020)

To download list, CLICK HERE.

45406 Dayton, Ohio: Tied for Ohio’s deadliest zip code for overdose deaths (99) from January 2018 through October 2020.

45140, Loveland, Ohio: Tied for our state’s deadliest zip code for overdose deaths (99) from January 2018 through October 2020.

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