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Ohio's Overdose Death Toll Tops 4,000

Ohio Department of health death chart

Ohio’s overdose deaths increased by a third last year to 4,050. According to the numbers released today by the Ohio Department of Health, more than half of those deaths involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

Fentanyl and related drugs were a tiny percentage of the epidemic as late as 2013, but escalated dramatically in the last three years. And the even more powerful carfentanil – a large-animal tranquilizer – emerged in a big way in the second half of last year, killing 340 people in all of 2016.

The one bright spot in the report is that deaths from prescription opioids – which largely created the epidemic – dropped for the fifth straight year in 2016 to the lowest number since 2009.

Here’s a closer look at the numbers:

  • Overdose deaths in 2015: 3,050
  • Overdose deaths in 2016: 4,050
  • Percent overdose deaths fentanyl-related in 2012: 3.9 percent
  • Percent overdose deaths fentanyl-related in 2013: 4 percent
  • Percent overdose deaths fentanyl-related in 2014: 19.9 percent
  • Percent overdose deaths fentanyl-related in 2015: 37.0 percent
  • Percent overdose deaths fentanyl-related in 2016: 58.2 percent
  • Carfentanil-related deaths  in 2016: 340
  • Prescription opioid-related deaths in 2015: 667
  • Prescription opioid-related deaths in 2016: 564
  • Opioid prescriptions from 2012 to 2016: Declined 20.4 percent 
M.L. Schultze is a freelance journalist. She spent 25 years at The Repository in Canton where she was managing editor for nearly a decade, then served as WKSU's news director and digital editor until her retirement.