GALION — Drug overdose has become a dangerous and deadly problem across the United States. Since 1999, overdose deaths increased from 6.1 per 100,000 people to 21.7 per 100,000, and much of that growth has occurred since 2014.
The problem is more prevalent in some states.
Overdose rates vary widely among states — from fewer than 7 to more than 50 deaths per 1,000 residents.
Ohio is No. 2 on the list, behind only West Virginia in death rates per 100,000 residents and just ahead of Pennsylvania.
West Virginia’s overdose death rate was 57.8 per 100,000, Ohio was at 46.3 and Pennsylvania at 44.3. The were the highest observed age-adjusted drug overdose death rates in 2017. The District of Columbia had a rate of 44.0 per 100,000.
These statistics were compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and compiled by the website https://eligibility.com, a website that says it is offers “A free service to better understand benefit programs. We help you determine your eligibility for more than 30 programs.”
The websitecompiled CDC research on drug overdose deaths for each state, and then compared those numbers to state populations. The result is a ratio: the number of overdose deaths per 100,000 residents. Then, the team ranked each state from most to fewest deaths.
Correlations and key findings
States with the highest drug overdose death rates are centered mainly in New England. However, the top two — West Virginia and Ohio — aren’t New England states.
West Virginia is the number one state for drug overdose deaths. It also has one of the highest opioid prescription rates and ranks high in opioid-involved overdose deaths.
The District of Columbia is third in drug overdose deaths, as well as the second-highest unemployment rate in the nation.
Seven of the states in the top ten for overdose deaths are also in the top ten for specifically opioid-involved overdose deaths.
The ten states with the lowest drug overdose deaths are mostly located in the Midwest.
The three states ranking lowest in drug overdose deaths are North Dakota, Nebraska, and South Dakota, each with less than seven deaths per 100,000 people.
What about Crawford County?
Law enforcement personnel, prosecutors and judges in Crawford County are determined to fight drug abuse the only way they can, by apprehending and prosecuting those involved in committing drug-related crimes.
They say they are having success, relating a drop in drug-related crime to a drop in drug-related activity.
According to statistics released last week by Crawford County Municipal Court, drug-related crime in Crawford County continues to drop in this part of north central Ohio. In fact total drug-related crime in the county was down 20 percent from 2017 t0 2018 and has dropped 59 percent since 2014.
“I am very pleased,” said Crawford County Common Pleas Judge Sean Leuthold. “Drug-related crime has been drastically reduced, and it still dropping.”
“This drop in crime is a result of excellent work by law enforcement, law directors and prosecutors,” Leuthold said. “However, I do believe the courts have played a role in our success. People have learned that Crawford County is the wrong place to be involved in drug-related crime. If you commit drug-related crimes in Crawford County, you are going to be punished.”
It’s not clear what causes higher rates of overdose deaths in some states than in others, but the group from termlife2go.com only studied commonalities among the states with the most overdose deaths.
West Virginia, for example, the state with the highest incidence of these tragedies, also has a very high unemployment rate. Additionally, its residents are more likely to have physical, injury-prone jobs such as mining than are those in other states.
No matter what state you live in, you can get help if you or someone you know has a drug addiction. Call The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357).