OHIO — The state recorded a new high for opioid overdose deaths last year. In the second quarter of 2020, which is three months, the overdose death rate was the highest its been in 10 years. 

The statewide death rate was 11.01 per 100,000 people, according to Scientific Committee on Opioid Prevention and Education (SCOPE). The previous high was in the first quarter of 2017, which recorded a rate of 10.87 opioid overdoses per 100,000 people.

The sharp spike came after Ohio documented a drop in overdoses in the 24 months leading up to the surge. 

“This is alarming data, and while COVID has rightly captured our attention, we cannot lose sight of the threat the opioid epidemic brings to all areas of Ohio,” said Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. “Opioid overdoses might have taken a backseat in our minds last year because of COVID-19, but make no mistake: Ohioans are dying at a devastating rate because of opioid overdoses."

The data shows the was an increase in opioid overdose deaths last year in nearly 70% of Ohio's counties. 

The hardest-hit counties:

  • No. 1 — Scioto County with 35.22 deaths per 100,000 people
  • No. 2 — Fayette County with 20.67 deaths per 100,000 people
  • No. 3 — Franklin County with 19.43 deaths per 100,000 people
  • No. 4 — Gallia County with 19.4 deaths per 100,000 people
  • No. 5 — Ross County with 19.22 deaths per 100,000 people

Yost warned the data may not be complete as the Ohio Department of Health has a backlog of about six months, which means the numbers could rise in the coming weeks. 

As of Dec. 17, the U.S. had one of the deadliest years on record for opioid overdose deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between May 2019 and May 2020, more than 81,000 people died. And 37 of the 38 U.S. jurisdictions with data available recorded an increase in synthetic opioid-involved deaths. 

Between those 12 months Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky reported a nearly 22% increase in deaths. Between May 2018 to May 2019, Ohio recorded a 13% rise.


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

  • 24/7 National Helpline: 1-800-622-HELP(4357)

Ohio's Information and Treatment Referral Line

  • 1-877-275-6364. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services

Families Against Narcotics

The Gap Network of Prevention Action Alliance

National Institute on Drug Abuse

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