According to a study released Friday, Ohio is among the 8 states with the highest overall rates of opioid-related deaths in the 18-year span from 1998-2016. However the study also suggests that among those states hardest hit, Ohio is seeing a drop in opioid-related deaths in 2018.
Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, and New Hampshire all joined the Buckeye State in having opioid rates that doubled every three years from 1998-2016. Only two states, Florida and Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia had a higher increase in death rates, doubling every two years, yet still were surpassed in total deaths. Overall, in the United States opioid overdose deaths have quadrupled in that time period.
The study found that by far, one of the greatest contributors to the startling rise was the proliferation of synthetic opioids. These are most forms of opioids produced commercially, specifically for pain relief. Fentaynl and Methadone were among the most common to be responsible for overdose-related deaths. In 12 states, more than 10 out of every 100,000 people died from synthetic opioid-related deaths. The study also called the opioid epidemic “one of the largest health crises facing the United States,” adding:
Opioid-related deaths in the United States have increased more than 4-fold during an 18-year period, from 2.9 (95% CI, 2.8-2.9) per 100 000 people in 1999 to 13.2 (95% CI, 13.1-13.3) per 100 000 people in 2016. This increase corresponds to more than 42 000 opioid-related deaths in 2016, many of which occurred among young adults.
The study also offered a glimmer of hope. Of the states hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, researchers noted that Ohio was seeing a decrease in the number of recent opioid-related deaths in 2018. These were specifically noted to be the result of several proactive Ohio policies, including “increased access to naloxone, needle exchange programs, and increased support for those with mental health and addiction problems.”
The study was published in JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, a peer-reviewed medical journal, and is available to read in full online.
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Andrew Shirley is a reporter at Battleground State News and The Ohio Star. Send tips to [email protected].