Opioid overdose stats from 2017 show problem isn’t getting better

Mercer County has seen the biggest jump in overdose deaths -- 120 percent -- than any other county in the Youngstown area

ambulance overdose generic

(WKBN) – The number of people dying from drug overdoses continues to rise in Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana and Mercer counties at an alarming rate. More people died last year from drug overdoses than ever before.

Lauren Thorp is the director of Recovery and Youth Programs for the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board, where it can be a tough place to work.

“I walk in and look at the coroner’s numbers and, why did I show up? Because would this have still happened if I didn’t show up? I don’t know,” she said.

In Trumbull County last year, an estimated 130 people died from drug overdoses — the most of any county around Youngstown. In 2016, there were 107 overdose deaths and the year before saw 82.

“The majority of the deaths are from either heroin, fentanyl, cocaine combination,” Thorp said.

Counting all overdoses, including those where the drug user lived, Trumbull County saw 1,254 last year — down seven from 2016.

“It’s in every class — higher, lower,” said Mercer County Coroner John Libonati.

Libonati has signs urging people to say no to drugs because in the past three years, Mercer County has seen its deaths from overdoses rise from 16 in 2015 to 41 in 2017. The 120 percent increase in those three years is the most of any county in the Youngstown area.

Libonati has also seen the number of people revived with naloxone go from just five a month to 60 a month.

“So the drug problem is getting worse. So do I see it getting better anytime soon? No,” he said.

In Mahoning County, the number of overdose deaths last year was an estimated 114 — up from 92 and 66 the two years before.

In Columbiana County, the estimate is 44 deaths in 2017 — up from 37 and 27.

Libonati said all the attention given to the opioid epidemic has to help.

“I think that within the next two to three years, you most likely will see it start to plateau. I would hope.”

Thorp mentioned several programs Trumbull Mental Health and Recovery is a part of and though some days can be tough, she knows they’re helping.

“How much worse would it be if we weren’t collaborating on those projects, if we weren’t doing those things,” Thorp said.

The 2017 numbers for the Ohio counties are estimates because of the backlog of toxicology tests, but they’re close estimates.

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