Creating a Strong, Healthy, Drug-Free Ohio
Percentage of Unintentional Drug Overdose Deaths Involving Selected Drugs, By Year, Ohio, 2010-2017
Source: ODH
Ohio continues to face an unprecedented addiction and overdose epidemic that is taking its toll on individuals, families, and communities. A coordinated, consistent, and aggressive response is needed to handle new challenges that arise as this epidemic evolves and changes, such as the increase in cocaine and methamphetamine use. Ohio’s overdose death rate continues to be among the highest in the country. While deaths involving synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil continue to rise, Ohio’s problem is not limited to opioids. Overdose deaths involving cocaine and methamphetamines, particularly those cut with fentanyl, have increased significantly. Additionally, the prevalence of binge drinking in Ohio is one of the highest in the country. The impact of the arrival of medical marijuana is uncertain. However, it is yet another change in the landscape. As Ohio endeavors to create a strong, healthy, drug-free state, we must work to prevent and treat addiction, regardless of the substance involved.

While Ohio has focused on addressing Ohio’s opioid epidemic over the past several years, we have not had the same level of attention aimed at Ohio’s addiction epidemic. As many individuals with an addiction will tell you, “if you take away one of my drugs of abuse, I will find another that will get me high”. We need to be addressing Ohio’s addiction epidemic, encompassing all types of drugs.

Based on a recent study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), among all drug overdoses throughout the nation in 2017, 13,942 had cocaine involvement and 10,333 had a psychostimulant involved. This was an increase of more than a third from 2016 to 2017 and triple the number of deaths from 2012. According to the same CDC study, Ohio had the highest increase in overdose deaths involving methamphetamine at 130%. While Ohio’s rate of increase in overdose deaths involving cocaine was much lower at 39%, this is still too high. Unfortunately, preliminary data from the CDC indicates that the rates for methamphetamine and cocaine overdose deaths in 2018 increased as well. Additionally, America’s Health Rankings report that Ohio has the 10th highest rate of binge drinking among US states.

What do all of these statistics tell us? Ohio doesn’t just have an opioid epidemic; Ohio has an addiction epidemic. If we don’t address overall addiction, we may reduce the impact of opioids, but we will see a new drug take its place and the cycle of the addiction epidemic will continue.