‘Epidemic within pandemic’ leads to big increase in overdose fatalities

Franklin County

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Franklin County experienced a 45.6 percent increase in overdose deaths in 2020 in what officials are calling an “epidemic within the pandemic.”

The Franklin County Coroner’s Office released a report Wednesday detailing the jump in deaths during the pandemic.

The increase is in keeping with national overdose deaths for 2020, which were up 28.9 percent. The CDC says the percentage is high even though most states are underreporting OD deaths due to incomplete data.

Challenges include access to medication for opiate use disorders, limited access to peer support groups, and the stress that social distancing generate. In addition, people taking opioids alone is much harder to actually reverse with Naloxone if no one is observing it happening. And then there is the loss of jobs, the
homelessness, the despair — those again are likely to have contributed to the vulnerability of
people taking risks that otherwise they wouldn’t have.”

Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse

Other 2020 overdose numbers from the Franklin County Coroner’s Office:

  • Franklin County experienced an 83.9 percent increase in OD deaths between 2017 and 2020.
  • Men comprised 71 percent of the OD deaths in 2020, up from 69 percent.
  • OD’s among African Americans, Caucasians, and Hispanics rose sharply, while the Asian population has remained stable.
  • The highest number of OD cases fell within the 25-35, 35-44, and 45-54 age categories.
  • Fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine, and alcohol, are the frequently reported substances in Franklin County OD deaths.

You can read the entire report here.

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