Delaware County was third lowest in overdoses last year

According to figures released this week by the Ohio Department of Health, Delaware County has the lowest unintentional drug overdose death rates in Central Ohio and the third-lowest in the state.

ODH’s annual report on drug overdose deaths showed that Delaware County had an average of 7.2 deaths per 100,000 population from 2011 to 2016. Delaware’s average was higher than only two counties, Wyandot County, which had 6.9 deaths and Ashland County, which had only 5.8.

Montgomery County had the highest average death rate, at 42.5 per 100,000, followed by Brown County with 41 out of 100,000 and Butler County with 40.5 out of 100,000.

Rates were not calculated for Holmes, Paulding, Monroe, and Noble counties.

The department of health reported that from 2011 to 2016, Delaware County had 76 overdose deaths and noted that deaths have been trending downward since peaking in 2012 when the county had 16 overdose deaths. According to the department of health, in 2013 there were 15 deaths, 12 deaths in 2014 and 2016, respectively, and 11 overdose deaths in 2016.

The department of health also reported that Ohio’s opioid epidemic is evolving and growing after there was a “significant” increase in overdose deaths involving the opioid fentanyl.

In 2016, unintentional drug overdoses caused the deaths of 4,050 Ohio residents, a 32.8 percent increase compared to 2015 when there were 3,050 overdose deaths.

Fentanyl and related drugs were involved in 58.2 percent (2,357) of all unintentional drug overdose deaths in 2016. By comparison, fentanyl was involved in 37.9 percent (1,155) in 2015, 19.9 percent (503) in 2014, 4.0 percent (84) in 2013, and 3.9 percent (75) in 2012.

Heroin-related overdose deaths increased by 20 from 1,424 2015 to 1,444 2016. Heroin accounted for 35.7 percent of drug overdose deaths in 2016.

Cocaine-related deaths saw a sharp increase from 2015 to 2016, rising from 685 deaths in 2015 to 1,109 deaths in 2016, accounting for 27.4 percent of the total number. The department of health also reported that of cocaine-related overdose deaths in 2016, 80.2 percent also involved an opiate, and 55.8 percent involved fentanyl and related opiates in particular.

Prescription opioids, excluding those that also included fentanyl, accounted for 12.9 percent of overdose deaths with a total of 564, a significant decrease from the 667 deaths in 2015.

Benzodiazepine, which is a sedative, accounted for 13.7 percent of overdose deaths with a total of 553, an increase from the 504 benzodiazepine deaths in 2015.

Additionally, a mixture of alcohol and drugs accounted for 13.3 percent of overdoses in 2016 with a total of 539, a large increase from the 380 alcohol and drug mixture related deaths in 2015.

To view the complete report, visit

By Glenn Battishill

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Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.