WYSO

Your Voice Ohio: Exploring The Data Behind The Opioid Epidemic

Mar 30, 2018

What proportion of the population has been directly affected by the opioid epidemic? What does an addict look like? How many overdoses started with pain pills and not recreational use?

This story is part of Your Voice Ohio, a collaboration between WYSO and more than 30 other news organizations around the state designed to investigate the opioid epidemic, and to listen to community members affected by the addiction crisis. 

Many concerned community members affected by addiction and opioids told us they want to know more about the demographics behind the crisis.

Over the past year we have gathered a great amount of data in order to gain more insight on what the opioid crisis looks like in Ohio, which communities are being most affected by it, and how we can help. We believe that reliable data can lead to reliable solutions.

Between 2012 and 2016, the total number of opioids dispensed to Ohio patients decreased by 162 million doses or 20.4 percent.
Credit Your Voice Ohio / WYSO

Prescribing Patterns

A 2013 study examining national-level general population heroin data (including those in and not in treatment) found that nearly 80 percent of heroin users reported using prescription opioids prior to heroin.

Of all unintentional overdose deaths in Ohio in 2016, 20.6 percent had an opioid prescription in the previous 30 days.

In 2015, National prescribing rates were 5.52; Ohio’s prescribing rate was 5.34.

The counties in Ohio with the highest opioid prescription rates were:

-Crawford (7.5)

-Guernsey (7.14)

-Sandusky (6.87)

-Washington (6.75)

-Summit County(6.60)

Fortunately, opioid prescribing rates in Ohio have been declining.

Rates declined for a  fourth consecutive year in 2016, according to the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy. Between 2012 and 2016, the total number of opioids dispensed to Ohio patients decreased by 162 million doses or 20.4 percent.

To compare fatal unintentional overdose rates with county prescribing rates, you click here and go to the map at the bottom of the page. To see the changes in prescribing rates overtime and at the state, county, and zip code level click here.

Of those who died of an unintentional overdose in Ohio, men make up 67.2 percent. Additionally, almost 40 percent were between the ages of 45 and 64.
Credit Your Voice Ohio

Demographics

Based on 2016 data, Cuyahoga County had the highest number of fatal unintentional drug overdoses in the state.

Next were Montgomery, Hamilton, Franklin, and Summit County.

By rates of fatal drug overdoses (adjusted for county population), Montgomery County had the highest rate of fatal unintentional drug overdoses, followed by Richland, Butler, Summit, and Trumbull counties.

Of those who died of an unintentional overdose in Ohio, men make up 67.2 percent.

Additionally, almost 40 percent were between the ages of 45 and 64; and 35 percent were between 20 and 34 years old.

Race demographics for overdose deaths in Ohio and nationally, are predominately white.

See more data and graphics from Your Voice Ohio here.

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Your Voice Ohio is a collaborative effort to produce more relevant, powerful journalism based on the needs and ambitions of Ohioans and Ohio communities. Your Voice Ohio is an initiative of WYSO and more than 30 news organizations across Ohio. We’re beginning with the opioid epidemic and will let the public guide us from there.