New opiate overdose numbers shows epidemic has no signs of stopping

New opiate overdose numbers shows epidemic has no signs of stopping

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - New numbers show the opioid epidemic in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan communities seems to be unstoppable.

"This is out of control," Chief Toxicologist with the Lucas County Coroner's Office Dr. Robert Forney said.

The numbers from the Lucas County Coroner's Office for the 21 counties in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan continue to balloon. There were 145 opioid overdose deaths in 2014, 215 in 2015 and 288 in 2016.

If you go back to 2010, there were only eight opioid overdose deaths.

"I've been doing this almost 45 years," Dr. Forney said. "The magnitude of this problem is just outrageous, compared to anything else I've seen in my career."

In looking at the trends, fewer people are dying from straight heroin. Fentanyl, which is close to 100 times stronger, is taking over.

What Dr. Forney finds most concerning is the growing number of fentanyl analogue deaths, drugs far more potent than heroin.

"These analogues may be a thousand to ten thousand times more potent than fentanyl," Dr. Forney said. "So we're talking about extremely lethal substances on the streets of Toledo," said Forney.

Dr. Forney says the Ohio should continue to expand the DART program throughout the state and focus on getting people on opioid prescriptions to follow doctors' directions.

"We've had great increases in the number of beds," Dr. Forney said. "We need more. There's a lot of money going to rescue and recovery and I like that and we need more. But we need to do some serious prevention. We need a cultural wake up."

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