Ohio sees decrease in overdose deaths

Published: Jan. 15, 2020 at 5:11 PM EST
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The Ohio Department of Health recently released numbers of overdose deaths from 2018. The state saw a 22 percent decrease from 2017.

"I think that it's going to take the entire community to fix the problem,” said Lawrence County Prosecutor Brigham Anderson. “Law enforcement can't do it on their own. The courts can't do it on their own. The churches can't do it on their own. It takes everyone to come together, and in Lawrence County I think we're really seeing everyone come together to battle this problem."

From 2009 to 2018, Lawrence County saw the number of drug overdose deaths triple.

"We try to focus on making sure we get stiff penalties for drug dealers who are peddling this poison in our community," Anderson said.

Anderson has been the prosecutor in Lawrence County since 2013. He says while southern Ohio still has a long way to go in terms of fighting drug abuse, he's seen a positive impact with their drug task force.

"We've had great success in eradicating some of those major players from Detroit, Columbus, Dayton, who come here to traffic in drugs," Anderson said.

Over in Scioto County, they're home to the top five overdose death rate in the state. In a news conference following a trial last week, Prosecutor Shane Tieman says early intervention is key.

"Don't wait," Tieman said. "Don't wait until you see me to get help. Don't wait till you've lost your children to get help. Get into counseling. We have an inordinate amount of counseling agencies and opportunities here."

A report released by the Ohio Department of Health shows that more than 10 people a day died from an overdose in 2018. That's down from 13 in the previous year.

"We've reached out to every school in the county where we're doing some serious education for children on the dangers of drugs, the dangers of opioids and where it will lead your life."

Anderson says they're also working with the low level, non-violent offenders to change the course of their life, before it's too late.

"We want ultimately to make these citizens taxpayers," Anderson said. We want them to be able to raise their children, we want them to be positive influences in the community. The only way they can do that is if they're clean and off drugs."

He estimates that 95 percent of their cases involve drug or alcohol abuse.

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