Numbers can be twisted in an attempt to prove anything. But there’s no way to put a good spin on the latest Hancock County overdose statistics which show we’re still losing far too many battles with addiction.
Between January and September, Blanchard Valley Hospital emergency room saw 240 total overdoses. That’s an average of almost one per day.
Hancock Public Health also reports there have been 13 confirmed unintentional overdose deaths. That’s more than one per month.
There’s more troubling information. The stats also show drug users are using more potent opioids and are dying as a result. Of the 13 deaths, coroner’s reports list fentanyl as a contributing factor in nine cases, and carfentanil as a contributing factor in four cases.
Illegally-produced fentanyl can be hundreds of times stronger than heroin, and carfentanil and other related drugs can be stronger than fentanyl. Taken in even small amounts, either can be lethal.
Also alarming is a public health footnote that says there are 11 additional deaths pending here, that is, awaiting toxicology reports and a final cause of death from the coroner’s office. If those deaths are all found to be opioid-related it would mean 24 people will have died from overdoses in Hancock County in the first nine months of 2017.
Compare that to 19 in all of 2016, 13 in 2015, and 11 in 2014, and it’s clear the problem is still growing, not shrinking.
Whatever the final 2017 number turns out to be, it’s far too many. Each “stat” is a human life that ended prematurely, leaving an indelible mark on those left behind.
While there have now been 75 overdose deaths in Hancock County since 2011, the loss of life to prescription painkillers and other opioids is occurring statewide. In 2016, unintentional drug overdoses caused the deaths of 4,050 Ohio residents, a 32.8 percent increase compared to 2015, when there were 3,050 overdose deaths.
Fortunately, there is more help available now than there was just two or three years ago. Certainly it can’t be said Hancock County agencies have not responded to the opioid epidemic.
Need help or want to know how you can help someone who does? A good place to start is www.weallknowsomeone.org where a treatment and recovery resource guide, community guidelines and “language matters” can be found. The site also promotes the 211 Recovery Helpline and Crisis Text Line.
While the statistics may not yet reflect it, awareness of addiction is growing in Hancock County. Help is available. Use it.
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