Drug overdoses decline for third-straight year

BATAVIA, Ohio (Jan. 22, 2020) – Deaths due to unintentional drug overdoses declined for the third-straight year in Clermont County, according to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH).

Recently released data from ODH for the state and for each county indicated that in 2018, 80 deaths of Clermont County residents were caused by accidental drug overdoses. This compared to 105 in 2017, 96 in 2016, 91 in 2015, and 78 in 2014 – the largest decrease (24 percent) since Clermont County began to see the effects of increased opioid use in the late 2000s.

“We are encouraged by these numbers,” said Karen Scherra, the executive director of the Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board (MHRB). “These numbers indicate that the comprehensive measures we as a county have taken to address opioid use and addiction are working. However, we must maintain our efforts and try to expand them due to continued use of opioids and the rise in meth use to provide treatment options to those dealing with addiction.”

The MHRB, the county hub in the fight against opioid addiction, is the lead organization in Clermont County’s Opiate Task Force, a collaborative that began in 2013 to address the opioid crisis in the county.

In 2017 and 2018, additional medication-assisted treatment and other kinds of treatment became available to more people suffering from substance use disorders, Scherra said. In State Fiscal Year 2018 (7/1/18-6/30/19), MHRB spent almost $2 million on addiction treatment services, in addition to services funded through Medicaid and insurance.

Other advances in recent years included recovery coaches who provide peer support, more Quick Response Teams, which go to the homes of those who have survived overdoses to connect them to recovery resources; and more police/fire/EMS departments carrying Narcan, which can reverse overdoses.

In addition, a long-term recovery house for men opened in 2017 in Clermont County, and in June 2019, a women’s recovery house opened. Clermont County also implemented a women’s wing in the Community Alternative Sentencing Center, which initially was for men only. This jail alternative connects clients with multiple treatment options both while in the program and when released to the community.

Funding for these initiatives are provided through a combination of MHRB levy funds, state funds, and federal and state grants.

Clermont County Public Health, a member of the Opiate Task Force, is also on the forefront of the opioid battle.

“We are glad to see the number of deaths decrease,” Public Health Commissioner Julianne Nesbit said. “We will keep working on the public health impacts of the epidemic like working to reduce the spread of diseases like hepatitis and HIV that can be associated with drug use. We are committed to continuing to work with partners as we see the transition in drug use.”

More information on Clermont County’s Opiate Task Force can be found on its website, www.getcleannowClermont.org.

For more information, contact MHRB Executive Director Karen Scherra, kscherra@ccmhrb.org, 513.732.5400.