Deadly drug overdoses in Ohio fell nearly 22% in 2018, to the lowest number in three years. Overdose deaths also dropped in every category of drugs except one.
The Ohio Department of Health says 3,764 Ohioans died of drug overdoses in 2018. While that’s still more than 10 people a day, it’s down from 4,854 the year before, or more than 13 a day. Death totals also fell in almost every category of drugs – including opioids.
But there was a 5% increase in deaths from psychostimulants such as meth and cocaine – two-thirds of those involved fentanyl, which turned up in three-quarters of all overdose deaths. However the actual number of fentanyl deaths dropped, and the number involving the even more deadly carfentanil plummeted to just under 3%.
Black non-Hispanic women had the lowest overdose death rates, while black non-Hispanic men had the highest rates for the second year in a row. The 35-44-year-old age group made up three-quarters of the total who died.
Six of the 10 counties with the highest per capita death rates were in southwest Ohio, with Montgomery County – home to Dayton and long considered the state’s capital of the opioid epidemic – had the highest percentage. Overdose deaths there were almost cut in half between 2017 and 2018.
Drug deaths also dropped in the urban counties of Cuyahoga, Hamilton, Lucas and Mahoning, but went up 10% in Franklin County.
The state’s annual count of drug overdose deaths was released quietly last month, in contrast to previous reports that were introduced in press conferences.