Ohio 2nd in nation for opioid deaths


Despite significant decreases in heroin and prescription opioid overdoses in the state, Ohio saw the second-highest number of opioid-involved overdose deaths per capita in 2017, according to a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There were 4,293 overdose deaths involving opioids last year, a 19 percent increase from 2016.

Like the national opioid epidemic, Ohio’s unintentional overdose deaths are driven by synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl and carfentanil, said Russ Kennedy, an Ohio Department of Health spokesman.

In 2016, 2,296 Ohioans died from synthetic opioid overdoses, according to the CDC. Last year, there were 3,523 – a 53 percent increase.

“This epidemic has evolved several times certainly over the last 20 years, but again over the last eight years,” said Mark Hurst, director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

The increase put Ohio at the second-highest synthetic opioid-involved overdose death rate in the country with 32.4 deaths per 100,000, just behind West Virginia’s 37.4 deaths.