By EILEEN MCCLORY
Overdose deaths in Ohio rose again in 2017, from 4,050 in 2016 to 4,854 deaths in 2017, according to a report released last week by the Ohio Department of Health.
The report said fentanyl and related drugs are now found in 70.7 percent of fatal drug overdoses.
Officials noted that other drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, were found frequently when coroners conducted autopsies last year.
But the state report didn’t contain just bad news.
Deaths from overdoses across Ohio declined in the second half of 2017.
Prescription opiate deaths are at an eight-year low, according to the data.
And people who look for several different doctors to prescribe them large amounts of opiates dropped by 88 percent between 2012 and 2017.
The state also calculated what each Ohio county’s average overdose death rate was over a six-year period, based on a population of 100,000. Not all counties have 100,000 residents, but the calculated rate shows what the average overdose death rate would be if a county did have that many residents.
The rate is a way to compare counties that may be larger or smaller in population size.
Hancock County appears to have had a lower overdose death rate, on average over the past six years, than 53 other Ohio counties, despite a big rise in the county’s overdose deaths between 2016 and 2017.
Hancock County reported 32 overdose deaths in 2017 and 19 in 2016, the state report said. On average, between 2012 and 2017, the county’s overdose death rate was the equivalent of 18.5 people for every 100,000 people.
Other area counties appear to have similar average overdose death rates.
- Allen County reported 39 overdose deaths in 2017, up from 31 in 2016. The county’s overdose death rate is the equivalent of 20.6 people per 100,000 population on average over six years.
- Hardin County reported nine overdose deaths in 2017, up from seven in 2016. The county’s overdose death rate is equal to 19 people per 100,000 residents on average over six years.
- Seneca County reported a big increase in overdose deaths, from five in 2016 to 19 in 2017. On average over six years, 17.1 people died from overdoses per 100,000 people.
- Wood County reported 17 people died from overdose deaths in 2017, down from 21 in 2016. On average over six years, the equivalent of 11.6 people died per 100,000 residents.
- Putnam County reported just three overdose deaths in 2017. In 2016, the county reported four deaths. Wyandot County reported three deaths in 2017 and four deaths in 2016.
Both Wyandot and Putnam counties had the equivalent of fewer than nine deaths per 100,000 people, on average over six years.
Montgomery County, which includes Dayton, reported 521 total deaths from overdoses in 2017, more than any other Ohio county. On average over six years, 52.6 people died from overdoses per 100,000 residents in that county.