Congressman Tim Ryan Responds to Ohio Drug Overdose Report

Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan, Chairman of the Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus, made the following statement in response to the 2014 Ohio Drug Overdose Preliminary Data Report released today by the Ohio Department of Health. The data shows that unintentional drug overdoses caused the deaths of 2,482 Ohio residents last year. This is the highest number of deaths on record from drug overdose and reflects a 17.6 percent increase compared to 2013 when there were 2,110 drug overdose deaths.

“I am heartbroken to hear how many Ohioans lost their lives last year to substance abuse, unfortunately this epidemic only continues to grow in our state. Last year in Summit County 56 people died from heroin overdose – and in just one week in Trumbull County, 7 people died from overdose,” said Congressman Ryan. “Addiction is a disease, and the people suffering need care just like anyone else who gets sick in this country, yet only 1 out of 10 Americans who suffers from substance abuse gets treated. It is critical that we get serious about this issue and work together to begin to stem the tide. We cannot afford to do nothing.”

The increased illicit use of a powerful opioid called fentanyl was a significant contributor to this rise in drug overdose deaths. Fentanyl has been observed being mixed with other commonly abused drugs, such as heroin, resulting in increased deaths between 2005 and 2007, and it seems to be reemerging in the U.S. Drug reports about fentanyl based on law enforcement drug seizures increased by 300 percent in the U.S. from the second half of 2013 to the first half of 2014. This increase was especially pronounced in the South, Northeast and Midwest. Most often used to treat patients with severe pain, fentanyl is a Schedule II synthetic narcotic that in its prescription form is estimated to be 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin and 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

The 2014 Ohio Drug Overdose Preliminary Data Report can be found here.