Opioid epidemic: Who is dying of heroin in Butler County?

Heroin cut with the powerful opioid fentanyl has ravaged the state and region, and the Butler County Coroner has recently released new data on the impact it’s had in the county.

County Coroner Dr. Lisa Mannix recently spoke to the Fairfield Opioid Task Force about the heroin/fentanyl epidemic Butler County.

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Here are five things of the latest things to know about the epidemic in Butler County:

1. Nearly every community impacted

More than half of Butler County’s 25 municipalities had at least one heroin/fentanyl overdose-related death in 2016. Only nine communities did not see such a death. They are: Oxford, Oxford Twp., Somerville, Milford Twp., Wayne Twp., Seven Mile, Reily Twp. and Millville. The Butler County portion of Sharonville has also seen a heroin/fentanyl overdose-related death last year.

The communities impacted the most by deaths from heroin cut with fentanyl are Middletown (52), Hamilton (47) and Fairfield (12).

2. Older people are dying of overdoses

These deaths are adults with an average age of just older than 40 years old.

“These are not kids (overdosing),” Mannix said. “These are older people with families and kids.”

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3. Deaths cross social-economic spectrum

Of the 192 overdose deaths in 2016, nearly 60 percent were men with an average age 41.3 years old, and 93.8 percent of the overdoses are white men and women. Just more than 5 percent who overdosed were African Americans and one Hispanic who died in 2016 in Butler County because an overdose, according to the county coroner’s office.

“Truly it goes across the spectrum of social-economic and we need to address that,” said Fairfield Councilman Bill Woeste, chair of the Fairfield Opioid Task Force. “If you look at those numbers, you just described Fairfield.”

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Butler County’s population demographics show 86 percent white, 8.4 percent African-American and 4.5 percent Hispanic. Fairfield’s population breakdown is 79 percent white, 12.8 percent African-American and 5.5 percent Hispanic.

There were 16 overdose deaths in Fairfield in 2016, and 12 were heroin/fentanyl-related, however, officials say most were not city residents.

4. On pace for a new record year

There were 453 cases handled by the Butler County Coroner’s Office last year, and officials are projecting more than 500 total cases will be handled this year.

More than 40 percent of those cases handled in 2016 were overdose related, and 80 percent of last year’s 192 overdoses were heroin/fentanyl-related overdose deaths.

5. A rise in deaths every year since 2012

There’s been a sharp increase in overdose deaths, and that’s directly because of the heroin crisis. In 2012, there were 101 overdose deaths, and around 25 percent were heroin related.

The total number of overdoses and heroin-related deaths have risen every year since then, though it’s statistically plateaued in 2015 and 2016 where there were 189 and 192 overdose deaths. Around 80 percent of overdose deaths in 2015 and 2016 were heroin-related.

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