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Despite 21% Decrease in Overdose Deaths, Ohio Still Has Work to Do


According to a recent CDC report, Ohio saw a significant decrease – 21.4% - in overdose fatalities in July 2017 through June 2018; second in the nation only to Washington DC, which saw a 24.2% decrease.

In a separate study by the Ohio Department of Health, the state recorded a 34% decline in overdose deaths from January 2018 – June 2018.

Harm Reduction Ohio, a nonprofit based in Granville, recently told the Columbus Dispatch that the sharp decline can be traced to “the almost total disappearance of deadly carfentanil, which often was mixed with cocaine.” The Dispatch reports that carfentanil was relatively unique to Ohio; its role in overdose deaths was 21 times that of other states studied by the CDC.

Governor Mike DeWine has embarked on a statewide listening tour; the first step in developing a plan to tackle Ohio’s drug problem, which is also a top priority for the Ohio State Medical Association. The OSMA lists “removing barriers to mental health and drug addiction treatment” as one of its top advocacy priorities in 2019, and plans to take part in efforts to increase access to coverage of medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorder.

OSMA members are also on the front lines of tackling Ohio’s drug crisis. OSMA member Dr. Shawn Ryan, MD, MBA, who also serves as Chair of Payer Relations for the Ohio Society of Addiction Medicine, was recently appointed by Gov. DeWine to the RecoveryOhio Advisory Council.

The Council will advise the Ohio Governor’s Office on critical matters concerning mental illness and substance abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery support services in Ohio. In addition, the group has been tasked with issuing actionable recommendations to Governor DeWine and each cabinet-level state agency, board, and commission that provides services to individuals with mental illness or substance use disorders. Gov. DeWine has asked for the recommendations from Council no later than March 8, 2019.



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