The influx of potent synthetic opioids across drug supplies is responsible for a mammoth spike in fatal drug overdoses across the Greater Cincinnati region.
Authorities in Hamilton County Ohio say overdose deaths in the area linked to fentanyl spiked by more than 1,000 percent over four years, rising from only 24 in 2013 to 324 in 2017. Officials with the county crime lab say more than 90 percent of drug samples tested so far this year contain some kind of synthetic opioids, reports Cincinnati.com.
Local police say the heroin crisis has morphed into, “a synthetic-opiate epidemic.” (RELATED: Study: A Vast Majority Of Patients Suffering With Chronic Pain Will Choose Weed Over Opioids)
“Its power is immediate and death can be immediate, unlike anything we have seen from any other drug,” Newtown Police Chief Tom Synan told Cincinnati.com. “Fentanyl and similar synthetic opiates have produced overdoses and deaths in not only unprecedented numbers but previously unimaginable.”
Opioids are killing a record number of people in Ohio, which now has the second highest death rate from drug overdoses in the U.S. behind only West Virginia.
The state lost 4,329 residents to drug overdoses in 2016 — a 24 percent increase over 2015 — due to the worsening opioid epidemic spreading death throughout the country. Nearly 40 per 100,000 people in the state now die from drug-related overdoses in Ohio.
The number of opioid deaths would be much higher without the presence of the overdose reversal drug naloxone or Narcan, officials said. Ohio first responders administered roughly 43,000 doses of naloxone in 2016.
Nationally, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, claiming more than 64,000 lives in 2016.
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