Deadly overdose rates declining in Trumbull County - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Deadly overdose rates declining in Trumbull County

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TRUMBULL COUNTY, OH -

Deadly overdoses appear to be on the decline in Trumbull County- on track to be just about half of the cases compared to last year. 

Data from the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board says that so far there have been 51 confirmed deadly overdoses so far this year. There are an additional eight cases pending that are anticipated to be added to that list, but haven't been confirmed yet. 

That number-51- is less than half of what was reported for the same time period last year. 

The Mental Health and Recovery Board says in all of 2017 there were 135 unintentional overdose deaths. The hope is that in the last two months of the year overdoses will stay low enough to mean that 2018 numbers will be less than half of that. 

While the decreasing numbers are potentially a good sign, April Caraway, the Executive Director of the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board, said that the data still has some missing links. 

For instance, in 2017 there were approximately 1,000 overdose victims who were revived and taken to the hospital. So far in 2018, there have been 645. 

But Caraway says the Mental Health and Recovery Board doesn't know how many people are being revived at home by Naloxone and then not going to the hospital. For instance, Caraway says most individuals who are revived by a police officer are taken to the hospital. 

However, if an overdose victim is revived by an ambulance crew, but then refuses to be transported to the hospital, there is currently no way to track that information. In addition, with family members and friends having access to Narcan kits, there's no easy way to tell when someone may be revived at home if they don't go to the hospital. 

The data the Mental Health and Recovery Board does have points to some identifiable trends. According to the data, men are more likely to overdose than women. In addition,  Thursdays and Mondays are the days of the week on which the most overdoses occurred during the past five months. 

According to the information, officials are also tracking where the majority of overdoses are occurring by zip code. So far they've been able to document the most overdoses happening in zip codes belonging to Warren, Niles, Howland, and Girard. 

The date also provides clues as to what drugs, specifically, are being used in the cases where the overdose victim has died. 

So far in 2018, 25% of all deadly overdoses have been caused by a mixture of fentanyl and cocaine. Pure fentanyl accounts for 17 percent of deadly overdoses and fentanyl mixed with heroin accounts for 11% of deaths. 

While there are still some missing pieces to the puzzle Caraway said they are hopeful that the decreasing number of deaths means fewer people in the county are using drugs- and there is some evidence that can help them believe that. 

Caraway said that in watching statewide date many other counties are reporting that their deadly overdose numbers are very similar to last year's, however, Trumbull County is seeing the drastic decline. 

In 2017, Trumbull County ranked 9th worst in deadly overdose per capita. In 2016, the county ranked 6th worst. 

But as the epidemic has progressed the county Mental Health and Recovery Board has put together an Action Plan- a list of resources and programs to combat drug use and overdose deaths. 

That plan has several priorities, including increasing incarcerations for drug traffickers, help get more people into drug treatment, a goal that's being helped by the recent federal law change that doubles the number of detox beds, identifying the neighborhoods with the highest overdose rates, and expanding drug education outreach programs in schools. 

Caraway says they have been able to expand school prevention programs to every school in the county.

Through surveys, they've been able to track student information over the past few years and have seen a marked decrease in the number of students who report using tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. 

In addition, the county has been able to expand the number of police departments who carry naloxone kits to all but 5 in the county. 
 

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