Miami County’s first quarter coroner’s statistics showed a decline in the number of deaths attributed to overdoses over the first quarter of 2017.
Of 17 autopsies conducted in deaths from January through March, nine were overdose related, according to statistics obtained April 5 from county Coroner William Ginn, M.D.
The number of overdose-related deaths for the first quarter was down from 18 in the first quarter of 2017, the report showed. The county experienced a record 33 overdose deaths in 2017. Most of the 2017 deaths – 25 - came during the first half of the year.
Dr. Ginn’s report states that the county recorded 68 deaths overall in the first quarter of 2018, nine fewer than in the first quarter 2017. The overdose deaths so far this year made up 13.3 percent of deaths, down from 23.4 percent for the same period a year.
The number of overdoses overall also are down this year so far with 36 reported in March, based on emergency department visits, said Dennis Propes, county health commissioner and member of the Miami County Heroin Coalition. There were 54 overdoses reported in January and 32 in February.
He emphasized that the numbers are believed to be declining due to several reasons including drug choice changes from heroin to methamphetamine.
However, fentanyl use continues.
“We are still working as a coalition to be able to respond,” Propes said of the group whose members represent first responders, the courts, treatment providers, the faith community and others.
Propes said he hopes that deaths and overdoses have declined in part due to coalition efforts.
Coalition members Steven Justice, a local attorney, updated those attending a Piqua YWCA program on the efforts of the coalition, formed in early 2016.
Justice said the opioid problem is not a gender or race issue and is seen most in those ages 25 to 50.
“It is an equal opportunity destroyer of people,” he said.
Among changes implemented in the county since the coalition was formed have been officers carrying Narcan to revive those who have overdosed, response teams ha visit those who have overdosed to see if they are ready for treatment, more treatment options including the Hope House detoxification home for men and women and Narcan kits and training available through the county Public Health Department in Troy.