COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A new study by the CDC found fatal drug overdoses increased by 44% among Black people in 2020. That is a sharp increase that’s been seen here in Franklin County as well.

In Franklin County, the coroner’s office reported a 35% increase in opioid overdose deaths among African Americans alone.

“It’s more than just seeing it, it’s seeing it personally, people that I know die,” said Nicole Hopkins.

For Hopkins, these are more than just numbers, but a reminder of those lost. She’s in recovery from her own drug addiction, and says it left her at her lowest point several years ago.

“I was almost on the brink of suicide,” said Hopkins.

That’s when she made the decision to turn her life around, with help from her faith and family. She said it’s been a constant struggle.

“That’s the insidiousness of this disease,” said Hopkins. “It’s more than just, it’s a mental and a physical.”

According to the CDC, overdose rates in Black communities were not only higher in 2020, but were exacerbated due to the pandemic. It’s why programs, such as the African American Male Wellness Agency and Franklin County Public Health, are shining a spotlight on the issue and ways to support those in need. Hopkins said she’s taking full advantage of the resources.

“I couldn’t do it by myself, and that’s why we need, I went to a program, a long-term treatment program,” said Hopkins. “I got into a twelve-step program, I did counseling, and I had support from my friends, family and the community.”

The latest report from the Franklin County Coroner’s office shows that overdose deaths did decrease slightly in 2021 compared to 2020, but only by about 4%.