COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Franklin County Coroner’s Office has released its annual overdose fatalities report, providing a snapshot of who is overdosing in Franklin County as well as the drugs involved.
Fentanyl-related deaths continue to account for the majority of overdoses, but Franklin County Coroner Dr. Anahi Ortiz said her office is more frequently seeing it mixed with other drugs.
The report paints a picture of those who died as a result of an overdose. While Ortiz said many of the statistics included in the latest report come as no surprise, there are some findings that are not on trend, and highlight a growing and concerning issue among central Ohio drug users.
“So we did start to see a decrease from 2020, which is a good sign,” Ortiz said.
She said while there are some victories in her office’s 2021 Drug Overdose Fatalities Data drive overall, the picture is still similar to previous years: fentanyl plays a significant role in overdoses in Franklin County.
“And unfortunately, 89 percent of those who died it was fentanyl-related in one way or another,” Ortiz said.
In 2021, Ortiz’s office recorded 825 overdose deaths, and although slightly lower than 859 deaths in 2020, this year’s deaths are much higher than the 556 recorded in 2019.
Ortiz said the new data shows it isn’t fentanyl alone contributing to fatal overdoses. In 2021, Franklin County saw a decrease in the single substance use among those who died, and an increase in polysubstance, or multiple substances, use with most overdoses involving two different or three different drugs.
“The two higher combinations are fentanyl plus cocaine and fentanyl plus methamphetamine,” Ortiz said. “We have seen it (cocaine and fentanyl) in the past, but it’s getting higher and higher each year.”
Other findings from the report show:
- Although a majority of overdose decedents were non-Hispanic white males, the county is seeing a gradual decrease in that population and an increase in overdoses from African American males and females.
- Overdoses among those who identify as homeless are also rising. Ortiz said she witnessed an increase of deaths listed as “the streets of Columbus,” and data reveals that group has experienced a five percent increase since 2017.
Ortiz said the report is distributed to local agencies and health departments and, from there, the data is used to help cater or focus services based on trends and need.
The coroner’s office’s full report is below.