CDC: Fentanyl overdose deaths skyrocketing in Ohio

A new federal report released this week found that deaths from fentanyl, an opiate that is 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin, have skyrocketed in Ohio in recent years (Source: “CDC: Fentanyl deaths in Ohio on the rise,” Toledo Blade, March 22, 2016).

The Ohio Department of Health asked the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the use of fentanyl over concern that use is growing rapidly across the state and pushing the number of overdose deaths to new heights. Fentanyl-related overdose deaths in Ohio increased from 84 in 2013 to 502 in 2014, state officials said.

Some of the key findings in the report are that those at greatest risk from overdosing on fentanyl were white men with a history of substance abuse or who were dealing with a mental health issue. Other risk factors for overdosing were if the person was released from a jail, hospital or substance abuse treatment facility within the last month and if the person had been given a high-dose opioid prescription in the past.

Approximately 62 percent of those in Ohio who died from fentanyl and heroin overdoses had a record of at least one opioid prescription from a health-care provider during the seven years preceding their death. About 40 percent of those who died from fentanyl and some 33 percent of people who died from heroin had been prescribed an opioid at the maximum dose available, according to the report.