BUCYRUS — The number of drug overdose deaths in Crawford County increased in 2020 over 2019.
According to the annual report released last week by the county’s Overdose Fatality Review team (OFR), 16 unintentional drug overdose deaths were reported in 2020, up from 11 in 2019.
“Substance use disorder affects everyone. It doesn’t just impact the individual, it affects their families, their friends, their co-workers, and our entire communities,” said Brad DeCamp, Executive Director of Crawford-Marion ADAMH Board. “It is important to bring everyone together to address this issue. Being a part of the OFR team helps us determine opportunities to bring efforts and actions into the community to fight the opioid epidemic.”
A total of 140 drug overdoses by Crawford County residents in 2020 were reported by either a hospital emergency room or urgent care center.
According to the OFR report, fentanyl was listed in the toxicology reports for 11 of the 16 fatal overdoses (69%).
The deceased’s residence was identified as the most frequent location of death (10 of the 16). Eight of the deceased lived in the Bucyrus zip code area. Five of the deceased resided in the Galion zip code area. Three of the deceased lived in the Crestline zip code area.
The age range for those who died from drug overdoses in 2020 was 22 to 47 years old (average age 34). The deceased included six males and 10 females.
Fifty percent (50%) of the decedents worked as a laborer in manufacturing. Only one decedent did not have an occupation listed on their death certificate.
All decedents had some type of prior involvement with law enforcement.
There were at least 20 children under the age of 18 years that lost a parent to drug overdose during 2020.
The 16 overdose deaths in 2020 was the second-highest figure reported in Crawford County over the past decade, according to the OFR report. In 2017, 17 drug overdose fatalities were reported. In 2018, there were 14 overdose deaths.
From 2011 to 2016, a total of 39 drug overdose deaths were reported in Crawford County. Over the past four years, a total of 58 drug overdose deaths have been reported, according the OFR report.
Addressing the issue
Recommendations the OFR team discussed for the Crawford County community include expanding the distribution of naloxone, seeking an avenue for distributing fentanyl test strips, expanding substance use disorder services available locally within Crawford County, expanding school-based prevention programs, increasing community education efforts on recognizing the signs of drug misuse to help friends/family engage in conversations with those that misuse drugs, and reducing stigma towards getting treatment.
“When we look at public health harm reduction programs, it is important to remember that a key strategy is to meet people ‘where they’re at’ and understand that making any kind of behavior change is a long-term goal and certainly not something we can fix overnight,” said Kate Siefert, Crawford County Health Commissioner and OFR Chair. “Many people want to resist the distribution of naloxone and fentanyl test strips because they feel it is enabling people to continue misusing drugs. The reality is that it may take 5, 10, 20 or even more interactions with these individuals before they are ready to make a change.
“Distributing these items by people trained in substance use disorder treatment provides opportunities to interact and develop a trusted relationship,” Siefert added. “When they are ready, they will already know who they can turn to for help. Having naloxone at home (where most overdose deaths occur) and ensuring family members are trained on how to use it helps us keep people alive until they are ready for treatment.”
The Crawford County Overdose Fatality Review team includes the following agencies: Crawford County Coroner’s Office, Crawford County Prosecutor’s Office, Crawford County Public Health, Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, Crawford-Marion ADAMH Board, and Marion-Crawford Prevention Programs.
The complete report can be viewed at or downloaded from the Crawford County Public Health website www.crawfordhealth.org.
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