Drug overdose deaths in Ohio declined in 2018 to a three-year low of 3,764. This comes after a year (2017) where the state saw its highest ever number (4,854) of overdose deaths. This updated information was released by the Ohio Department of Health in early December, much later in the year than it has traditionally been released. Evidence that the drug overdose rate declined in 2018 has been reported nationally. Some troubling national trends appear to also be reflected in Ohio’s recent data. Data about drug overdose deaths is presented in several ways, one way it’s organized is by the type of drug involved in the death. Each drug category is a duplicated count, because deaths often involve multiple drugs. Across all drug categories, the only one that saw an increase was psychostimulants including drugs like methamphetamines or meth. This means that these types of drugs were involved in more deaths than in 2017. The increasing use of meth has been identified as concerning in national, state and local reports.
Opioids, which include illicit fentanyl, heroin and prescription opioids, are involved with nearly 84 percent of deaths.
Overall, opioids continue to play a profound role in drug overdose deaths. Of the total drug overdose deaths, opioids, which include illicit fentanyl, heroin and prescription opioids, are involved with nearly 84 percent of deaths. And it is still quite shocking how this has all evolved over a relatively short period of time.
Unintentional Drug Overdose Deaths in Ohio, 2001-2018
Source: Ohio Department of Health
Community Solutions will continue to examine this data, particularly looking at how the data is broken down by race and sex.
The only certainty is that it’s too soon to tell whether the 2018 decline in deaths is a trend. News stories from around the State of Ohio have indicated that deaths may have ticked back up in 2019. And drug overdose deaths actually rose in 2018 in Franklin and Lucas counties, as well as in a few other counties with much smaller populations. Community Solutions will continue to examine this data, particularly looking at how the data is broken down by race and sex. Beginning in 2016 and 2017, Black men accounted for a larger share of drug overdose deaths and this trend continued in 2018. Putting this information into context with research about the intersection of economic conditions, opioid overdoses and Medicaid expansion and a reduction in opioid overdose deaths are other topics that we plan to dig into further.