Unintentional drug overdoses continued to rise in the state in 2015


The number of unintentional drug overdoses continued to rise in the state in 2015, according to new statistics released by the Ohio Department of Health Thursday.

A record 3,050 Ohio residents died as a result of overdoses last year, up from 2,531 in 2014 and 2,110 in 2013. The number has risen every year since 2009; since 2010, nearly 13,000 Ohioans have died from unintentional drug overdoses.

Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic narcotic that users are mixing with heroin, was a big driver of the increase, accounting for 1,155 unintentional overdose deaths last year, up from 503 in 2014 and 84 in ’13. Fentanyl-related deaths were mostly in the single digits during the previous half a dozen years.

Heroin was the second-biggest driver of Ohio’s results, accounting for 1,424 unintentional overdose deaths in 2015, up from 1,196 in 2014 and 983 in ’13.

Fentanyl is used in anesthesia to treat patients in extreme pain or to manage pain after surgeries. Health officials estimate that it is 30-50 times more potent than heroin.

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