Drug overdoses were the leading cause of deaths in 2016 in Butler County, according to the coroner’s office.
That marks the third year in a row that drug overdoses claimed the top spot, according to a Journal-News analysis of the statistics released today by Butler County Coroner Dr. Lisa Mannix at a news conference in her office.
Of the 192 drug overdose deaths in 2016, 153 of them — or 80 percent — were fentanyl/heroin related, she said, adding that Hamilton and Middletown contribute the highest to those numbers.
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“The trend in 2016 is more toward fentanyl, as well as the other more potent and deadly derivatives of fentanyl,” Mannix said.
Four of the deaths were attributed to carfentanil and one to furanylfentanyl.
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Carfentanil is a synthetic that provides drug users a stronger, longer high, Mannix previously told the Journal-News, and reiterated during her press conference. It is a tranquilizer used for larger animals like elephants, and is 10,000 times stronger than morphine, she said.
Mannix noted that the rise in drug overdose deaths are not “as precipitous” of a jump as in past years.
“That is encouraging,” she said, but the trend of drug overdoses as the number one cause of death in Butler County remains constant, she said.
“We are talking about the median age of people dying is in their late 30s to early 40s, and white males are the most represented group among our overdose death cases,” Mannix said, adding “this is an epidemic.”
In 2012, Mannix said Butler County averaged fewer than three heroin deaths per month. Now, it averages about three per week, she said.
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Mannix said several agencies, including the Butler County Health Department (BCHD) have been working together to combat the drug problem. The agency is offering free Narcan kits through an initiative called Project DAWN (Deaths Avoided With Naloxone) in order to help curtail fatalities.
According to Jenny Bailer of the BCHD, Project DAWN provides free kits of two doses of Narcan to friends and family members of addicts, or persons who may come in contact with someone experiencing an overdose of an opiate.
“We have given kits to friends and family members of addicts, as well as a few taxi drivers, and even a minister,” Bailer said.
Narcan is an opiate reversal drug that can counteract the effects of opiates during an overdose.
Each kit given must be accompanied by some training, including how to identify an overdose and how to administer the medicine, Bailer said.
Details on those education sessions can be found at www.butlercountyohio.org/Health or by calling 513-863-1770.
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2016 BUTLER COUNTY DEATHS
Drug overdoses: 192
Natural deaths: 138
Other accidents: 33
Motor vehicle traffic crashes: 24
Source: Butler County Coroner’s Office