Fueled by pill abuse, Ohio sees surge in heroin deaths

imgname--prescription_drug_abuse_on_the_rise---38647165--images--flickr_2931207680The Toledo Blade has a new story on Ohio’s recent spike in heroin-related overdose deaths following the prevalence of prescription painkiller abuse throughout the state. As we are seeing elsewhere in the nation, the trend has resulted in a shocking uptick in heroin deaths: in 2010, the paper reports, 14 such deaths occurred in the region, increasing to 31 in 2011, and to 55 last year. As of early February, 14 heroin-related deaths had already been tracked this year by the Lucas County coroner’s office, the paper adds.

Furthermore, the paper reports that the overdose deaths can be connected to an influx of “China white” heroin, which is more potent than the brown kind traditionally more prevalent in the region. Toledo police seized about 1,454 grams of heroin in 2011, but only 5.3 grams were the white type; last year, however, of the 3,371 total grams seized, about 68% was white, and so far this year, white heroin accounts for about 80% of the heroin seized, according to the paper.

Statewide, heroin overdose deaths rose from an average of 100 per year between 2000 and 2005 to about 224 per year between 2006 and 2010, the latter accounting for 15% of all overdose deaths, the paper says.

Read more about the pills-to-heroin transition in other areas of the country here and here.

About Erin Marie Daly

I’m a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. My book on prescription drug and heroin addiction was published in August 2014 by Counterpoint Press.
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