COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Overdose deaths in Franklin County declined ever so slightly in 2021, but the coroner’s office continues to sound the alarm on the “dramatic” rise in overdose fatalities in recent years.

The 825 overdose deaths recorded in Franklin County in 2021 mark a 4% decrease compared with the 859 deaths in 2020, according to a report from the coroner’s office. Yet the 825 fatalities — the great majority of which were caused by fentanyl — represent a 52% jump in drug-related deaths since 2017.

“Franklin County experienced a significant number of overdose deaths for yet another year,” the coroner’s report said. “During the past few years, the county has seen a dramatic increase in overdose deaths, which mirrors what is seen in several other counties across the United States.”

Overdose deaths in Franklin County in 2021 declined by 4% from the year before, according to a report from the Franklin County Coroner’s Office.

Residents between the ages of 35 and 44 accounted for the largest percentage, 25%, of total overdose deaths in 2021, following closely by those between the ages of 45 and 54, the coroner’s office found.

Fentanyl, cocaine are the largest overdose-death contributors

Fentanyl remains the No. 1 overdose-inducing drug in Franklin County, with 89% of overdose deaths in 2021 attributable to the potent opioid, the coroner’s office said. That’s a 3% increase from the fentanyl-related fatalities in 2020.

The coroner’s office recorded an uptick in the involvement of three other drugs — cocaine, amphetamines and alcohol — in 2021’s overdose fatalities.

Cocaine-related deaths surged from 36% to 43%; amphetamine-involved overdoses increased from 4% to 18%; and alcohol-related fatalities jumped from 14% to 18%, according to the coroner’s office.

As fentanyl, cocaine, amphetamine and alcohol-related deaths soared in 2021, the coroner’s office recorded downfalls in the number of overdose fatalities involving other drugs, like heroin and natural and semi-synthetic opioids.

Not a single overdose death in 2021 was caused by heroin, the coroner’s office said, and natural and semi-synthetic opioids — like oxycodone, methadone and morphine — declined from 19% to 8% of overdose deaths.

White men accounted for most 2021 overdose deaths

While Franklin County is witnessing a gradual decline in the number of non-Hispanic white men who die from an overdose since 2017, they accounted for the majority of 2021’s overdose fatalities, the coroner’s office said.

Since 2017, Franklin County saw a steady downfall in overdose deaths among non-Hispanic White men and women but a concurrent increase in drug-induced fatalities among non-Hispanic Black men and women.

The racial gap when it comes to fentanyl-related deaths narrowed significantly in 2021, with fentanyl contributing to 88% of overdose deaths among the non-Hispanic white population and 90% of deaths among the non-Hispanic Black population.

But fentanyl continues to hit Black men the hardest, with fentanyl accounting for 91% of overdose deaths among Black men, 89% among white men, 88% among Black women, and 85% among white women, the coroner’s office found.

While cocaine plagued Black residents at higher rates than whites in 2021, white people in Franklin County accounted for the most overdose deaths involving amphetamines, according to the coroner’s office.

Where did most overdose deaths occur in Franklin County?

The majority of overdose deaths occurred on the west side of Franklin County in the 43228 zip code, jumping from 4% in 2020 to 9% in 2021, the coroner’s office said. That’s a geographical change from 2020, when most overdose fatalities happened in the 43207 zip code, the southern region of Franklin County.

Zip codes trailing behind 43228 when it comes to overdose deaths in 2021 include 43204, 43207, 43223 and 43224, according to the coroner’s office.

Overdose fatalities among homeless people in Franklin County accounted for 5%, or 44, of the total overdose deaths in 2021. That’s up from the 8 drug-related deaths among homeless people recorded in 2017.

Read the full report below: