Opioids, from synthetics like fentanyl and methadone to naturals like heroin and morphine, are currently ravaging the nation.
Unfortunately, one state has been dubbed “ground zero” for the epidemic. Ohio has taken a large brunt of what is now one of the worst drug problems since crack cocaine hit the scene in the ’80s.
Tremendous efforts from rehab centers in Ohio, law enforcement, and healthcare systems have helped the epidemic. However, overdoses, deaths from overdose, crime, and addiction are putting a tremendous burden on multiple counties in the state.
Learn more about the scope of the opioid problem in Ohio, and what some possible solutions are.
How Bad Is the Opioid Problem in Ohio?
It’s no question that the United States has an opioid overdose crisis. In 2019, nearly 50,000 people died from opioid-related overdoses. This includes the misuse of all opioids, legally prescribed and those bought illegally.
The drug overdose problem is especially rampant in Ohio. The year 2020 surpassed 2017 as the highest year for drug overdose deaths in Ohio, with 5,017 deaths. This is a 3% increase over 2017 and a 25% increase over 2019.
What Is the Relationship Between Certain Opioids?
Many of the opioids that are abused in Ohio are fentanyl and heroin. The relationship between these two drugs is often why so many overdoses happen.
Heroin is a natural opioid that is processed from the opium poppy plant. It provides a rush of euphoria and relaxation, and is extremely addictive.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is prescribed by doctors to treat chronic pain, especially after major surgeries. It is upwards of 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin. Fentanyl highly resembles what heroin looks like, and mimics its high as well.
To maximize profits, drug traffickers are illegally making fentanyl and mixing it into heroin which is then sold on the street. Unsuspecting customers buy a bag of heroin and inject what they think is a “normal” amount, but are instead taking a fatal amount of fentanyl.
On the flip side, patients who are prescribed fentanyl become addicted to its pleasurable and numbing effects. Once their prescriptions run out, they turn to the black market to feed their addiction.
This is when they may start to abuse heroin or find even stronger versions of illegally made fentanyl, like 3-methylfentanyl.
Why Has Opioid Addiction Gotten Worse in Ohio?
It appeared that the opioid problem was on the decline in 2018 because the number of overdose deaths took a dip compared to 2017. However, there was a spike in overdose deaths in 2019 and an even bigger increase in 2020.
What caused this spike? In 2019, another epidemic took hold of the country. COVID-19 created a shocking psychological and social change across the nation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported many people using alcohol and substances to cope with issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Problems caused by COVID-19 include:
- physical health problems
- mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety
- loss of social life
- isolation and boredom
- dealing with loved ones and friends being sick or dying
- lack of access to normal mental health resources
- an overabundance of social media, entertainment, and video games
Solution for the Opioid Problem
Now that the world has adjusted to COVID-19, mental health resources, such as therapy and addiction treatment, are more accessible than ever before.
Treatment options for opioid addiction include:
- detox facilities
- inpatient and outpatient drug and alcohol programs
- dual diagnosis treatment for those with co-occurring mental health disorders
- partial hospitalization programs
- aftercare services, such as sober living homes and 12-step groups
Utilizing these different treatment options, along with informing yourself and others of the dangers of opioids, is the best way to combat the opioid problem.