Fentanyl Drives Another Record Year of Ohio Overdose Deaths

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – The state says a record 4,050 people died of drug overdoses last year driven in large part by the emergence of stronger drugs like the synthetic painkiller fentanyl.

The data released Wednesday means on average 11 Ohioans are dying each day by overdosing on pain pills, heroin, fentanyl or other drugs. Overdose deaths rose 33 percent over the 3,050 deaths in 2015.

Compounding the problem is the appearance of drugs like carfentanil, an opioid so powerful it’s used to sedate elephants, and the lacing of drugs like cocaine with fentanyl.

The state says heroin-related deaths are leveling off and deaths from prescription painkillers fell for the fifth straight year.

The prescribing of painkillers is also falling. Officials say that’s an important step to reducing overall addiction rates.