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Drug deaths in Ohio increase to 4,854 in 2017: state report

September 27, 2018

Drug deaths in Ohio increase to 4,854 in 2017: state report

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Over 13 people died a day on average in Ohio due to drug overdoses last year, a new high as the state battles the opioid epidemic.

Gov. John Kasich, who will leave office in January, played defense during a Thursday afternoon news conference where the death tally was announced, emphasizing the work he’s accomplished to make some progress in the battle against the drugs – such as heroin and prescription opioid-related overdose deaths decreasing.

However, the overall death rate is up because people are overdosing and dying due to fentanyl and Carfentanil being mixed into cocaine and methamphetamine.

Democrats have been hitting hard during the election season the theme that Ohio’s overdose death rate -- which continues to climb and is among the highest in the nation – is the result of weak GOP leadership.

Overdose deaths have risen in recent years.

In 2016, 4,050 people died, In 2015, 3,050 people died,In 2014, 2,531 died.

Kasich said the state is spending around $1 billion to fight the drug problem, including $600 million on treatment. In 2014, Kasich expanded Medicaid, which covers many people in treatment. 

“There is a perception -- and I may be incorrect about this -- somehow this problem of drug abuse in our state is ranging out of control,” he said. “That is simply not true. We are beginning to win a number of battles on the war on drug abuse.”

Prescription-related opioid overdose deaths have reached an eight-year low. Deaths from heroin are at a four-year low, he said. 

“If it wasn’t for what we’re doing, the numbers would be higher,” he said. 

Democratic response

On the campaign trail, Democrats are blaming Republicans for not doing more to stem the addiction deaths. Steve Dettelbach, the Democrat running for attorney general, called the opioid epidemic a “tragic symptom” of poor GOP leadership. Richard Cordray, who is running for governor, has talked about the issue since a Sunday Columbus Dispatch report looking at preliminary overdose number for 2017. He has also blamed Republicans, in particular his GOP gubernatorial opponent, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
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