Ohio County Records 82 Overdoses Over 2-Week Period

By Victoria Kim 03/21/17

Some officials suspect fentanyl may be responsible for the spike in recent overdoses.

Ambulance driving through traffic.

Ohio can’t seem to catch a break. Trumbull County, in northeast Ohio, recorded 82 drug overdoses in just the first 15 days of March. Ten people died.

In January, the county saw 73 overdoses. In February, 45. The worst hit areas include parts of Warren and Champion—29 of the ODs happened there. 

A former heroin user, Dominic Mararri of the Warren Family Mission, a non-profit rescue mission that serves Trumbull County, said the heroin problem isn’t going away soon. “[It’s] probably, you know, just a large quantity of drugs that maybe got brought in and maybe we’re just seeing the actual tip of the iceberg,” he told WKBN

Others, like April Caraway of the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board, suspect fentanyl as the likely cause behind the surge of overdoses. 

Last summer, the opioid overdose problem in Ohio got so bad in the Cincinnati area that the Hamilton County coroner, Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco, suggested that her community “was being used as a test tube” by drug dealers looking to test a new product, carfentanil, in the region.

“You put your drugs out there and see what happens,” said Sammarco. “You want repeat customers. You might want to know, how is law enforcement going to react? How are firefighters going to react?”

At the end of August, 174 people overdosed on heroin during a six-day period in the Cincinnati area. 

Carfentanil is a powerful opioid used to sedate large animals like elephants. It’s many times stronger than heroin, and has been blamed, like fentanyl, for causing overdoses to surge across the United States. 

Some first responders report that fentanyl and carfentanil do not respond as well to Narcan, the overdose antidote also known as naloxone.

Columbus and Akron also made headlines last summer for high overdose numbers. The mayor of Akron declared that the city had “moved into a public health crisis” after 19 people overdosed in a 24-hour period.

Once again, a stronger synthetic opioid like fentanyl was a prime suspect—authorities noted that the drugs were more resistant to Narcan, the overdose antidote, than usual.

Trumbull County Children Services (TCCS) hosted a town hall on Monday, March 20, to address the rising overdoses. According to WFMJ, 50% of children who are in TCCS custody are there because of a parent’s drug use.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr