Tag Archives: Ohio

Pill and heroin deaths surge across the nation

pillsoverdoseDespite increased media coverage and efforts to crack down on abuse, overdose deaths due to prescription drugs and heroin continue to happen at alarming rates in many states.

In Massachusetts, Gov. Deval Patrick recently declared a public health emergency due to the sharp increase in heroin overdoses and opioid addiction, with many addicts shifting from more expensive and harder-to-get pills to heroin, which is cheaper and widely available. Massachusetts state police say 185 people died from suspected heroin overdoses between November and February, a figure that does not include overdose deaths in the state’s three largest cities; the number of all opioid-related deaths increased from 363 in 2000 to 642 in 2011.

In Oklahoma, unintentional prescription drug overdoses claimed the lives of 534 residents in 2012; state health authorities say about half of them had taken drugs prescribed by their own doctors, according to this article.

In Iowa, the number of heroin overdose deaths rose 700 percent from 2003 to 2012, from one death to eight, according to this article.

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Teen pill abuse down in Ohio

PILLS.jpgThere is evidence that Ohio’s efforts to curb prescription drug addiction among teens is working. Fewer than 12.8 percent of ninth through 12th graders reported using prescription painkillers without a doctor’s orders at least once during their life, according to the 2013 Ohio Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The number marks a 40 percent drop from the previous study, in 2011, when 21.3 percent of students said they had used painkillers without a prescription, according to this article.

But the state’s fight is far from over: many painkiller addicts are turning to heroin when their prescriptions run out or they can no longer afford to get the painkillers from dealers, leading to a surge in overdose deaths in the Greater Cincinnati area, the article notes.

From 2000 to 2011, Ohio’s death rate due to unintentional drug poisonings increased more than 350 percent, and the increase in deaths has been driven largely by prescription drug overdoses, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

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In Ohio, suburban heroin deaths on the rise

overdoseIn Ohio, prescription drug addiction is increasingly putting young, educated suburbanites on the path to heroin addiction. According to this article, these addicts are flooding detox centers, rehab facilities and jails — and are also ending up in the morgue in record numbers. Statewide, nearly 500 people died of heroin overdoses in 2013 alone, and the number of heroin-related deaths has more than doubled in the past three years in a majority of Ohio counties, from 292 in 2010 to 606 in 2012, the article says.

Many other states are seeing an increase in heroin abuse following the rise in prescription drug addiction, including Indiana, North Dakota, and New Jersey, among others.

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W. Va. heroin deaths tripled in 2012

overdoseHeroin overdose deaths in West Virginia tripled in 2012 compared to just five years ago, and the state saw a 53% increase in heroin overdose-related deaths last year compared to 2011.

According to this article, which cites statistics released by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Health Statistics Center, between 2007 and 2012, the state’s health statistics center in Charleston reported that a total of 240 deaths were caused by heroin overdoses through the state, increasing from a total of 22 in 2007 to 66 in 2012.

Berkeley County has seen a total of 48 deaths, Jefferson County saw a total of 14 deaths and Morgan County was listed as having seven heroin overdose deaths in that same time period, the article says.

In Berkeley County, the statistics center attributed just one death to a fatal heroin overdose in 2007, but by last year, the number had increased to 13, the article says. Jefferson County saw its highest number of heroin overdose deaths in 2008 and 2010, when four deaths were directly attributed to heroin, but the number dropped to just one in 2012, while Morgan County saw just one heroin overdose death recorded in 2011, which increased to three last year, according to the article.

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More residents using Ky. involuntary treatment law

head-in-hands-manAs the prescription drug and heroin epidemic in Kentucky has worsened, residents have been taking advantage of a law that allows parents or other concerned people to petition the court to order involuntary drug treatment for an adult, according to this article. The Matthew Casey Wethington Act for Substance Abuse Intervention, enacted in 2004, is named for Casey Wethington of Kenton County, who died of a heroin overdose in August 2002 at age 23, the article says. More than a dozen states have laws dealing with involuntary commitment for addiction treatment, including Florida and Ohio.

Fewer than 10 Casey’s Law petitions were filed in Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties each year from 2004 through 2008, the article notes, but cases for the three counties jumped to a total of 20 in 2009 and in 2010, then shot up to 66 in 2011 and 71 in 2012 as the opiate epidemic progressed.

Heroin use in Kentucky has exploded in the past decade, fed by sophisticated supply networks focused on mostly white suburban and rural users who have become hooked on prescription painkillers, according to an earlier article by the Cincinnati Enquirer.

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As Fla. pill supply dwindles, heroin sweeps East Coast

heroinfoilFlorida’s crackdown on pill mills has dried up the supply of pills to much of the East Coast, with the unintended consequence of fueling heroin abuse. As this article notes, the rise in heroin use on Cape Cod “follows a predictable course seen nationwide: when the pills disappear, heroin sweeps in.”

Between Feb. 26 and March 30, the Cape saw at least eight drug-related deaths; in the same period, police responded to another four suspected heroin overdoses in which the person was revived, the article says.

A few years ago, most cases handled by the Cape Cod Drug Task Force involved pills, but now the police estimate that as much as 95% of their caseload is heroin-related, according to the article.

The trend highlights the fallout from Florida’s efforts to turn around its reputation as the nation’s epicenter of prescription drug abuse. On the bright side, the tougher regulations resulted in the number of pill mills in the state dropping from 854 to 580 between March 2011 and March 2012, according to this article.

In that same time period, the number of inappropriate prescribers of OxyContin in Florida dropped from 98 to 11; Florida previously had the most prescribers of OxyContin in the nation, the article says.

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In Cincinnati area, pills-to-heroin epidemic takes toll on kids

babybottleMore disturbing statistics are emerging from Ohio, which has been hit hard by the prescription drug addiction epidemic — and where there has been an uptick in heroin use, resulting in devastating effects on the children’s population. As this article reports, in Warren County — a primarily white, upscale area — only 6% of the children’s protective services cases in 2008 referred for ongoing services were related to heroin abuse; by 2011, that figure had jumped to 73%, including 106 cases involving 170 children.

In addition, the article says, 33% of Clermont County kids being removed from their parents are because of opiate abuse, while 90% of opiate abuse is heroin; half of the cases Hamilton County Children Services sees are heroin-related; and the number of children being removed from their homes in Butler County because of heroin abuse has doubled since 2010.

And more infants in the area are being born already addicted to opiates: in 2009, 11 of every 1,000 births were drug-exposed; that figure more that tripled by Sept. 30, 2012, when 36 of every 1,000 infants born were drug-exposed, the article notes.

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Indiana, Ohio drug tracking databases show promise

Nearly every state – all but Missouri – have databases that track commonly abused prescription drugs, but many are technologically deficient, and their usefulness varies. But two states, Indiana and Ohio, have launched pilot programs that may change the face of prescription drug monitoring, according to this article.

In Indiana, officials are using a health system with electronic health records in place, so whenever a patient is admitted to, discharged or transferred from the emergency room, that order will trigger the Indiana Scheduled Prescription Electronic Collection and Tracking program (INSPECT) to upload information about the patient’s drug history to the records system, the article says.

And in Ohio, patients are given a numeric score using a software program that indicates their risk of abuse. If the score is over a certain threshold, the provider receives an alert, the article says.

Separately, local health officials in southern Ohio adopted a high-tech fingerprint scanning system earlier this year in a bid to curb prescription drug abuse. Under that one-year pilot program, patients must submit to a fingerprint scan to see a doctor at Holzer Heath System, which operates two hospitals in the region. They must also use fingerprint IDs to get their prescriptions filled at certain pharmacies.

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Ohio to use fingerprint scanning to fight painkiller abuse

Local health officials in southern Ohio are adopting a high-tech fingerprint scanning system in a bid to curb prescription drug abuse. Under the one-year pilot program, patients must submit to a fingerprint scan to see a doctor at Holzer Heath System, which operates two hospitals in the region, the Wall Street Journal reports. They must also use fingerprint IDs to get their prescriptions filled at certain pharmacies, according to the article.

Health officials hope the program will help law enforcement target diversion of drugs into the illegal market and identify questionable doctors or suspect pharmacists, the article says.

An average of 67 opioid painkillers are prescribed to every Ohio resident each year, according to state data.

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Ohio sets new rules for opioids in the ER

Ohio’s governor has unveiled new guidelines for the prescription of opioids in emergency rooms and urgent care centers in a state where overdoses of such drugs are now the leading cause of accidental death. Gov. John Kasich said the rules establish an emergency department limit of a three-day supply of opiates and encourage emergency room doctors to make use of available state databases to identify abusers.

Emergency rooms are a major source of the nation’s opiate prescriptions, with 39 percent of all opioids prescribed, administered or continued in the U.S. Opioid prescribing for pain-related ER visits rose from 23 percent in 1993 to 37 percent in 2005.

Read more about prescription drug abuse in Ohio here.

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