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Drug Overdose in Ohio

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Past Reports   

Prevalence and Trends in Unintentional Drug Overdose 

  • In 2007, unintentional drug poisoning became the leading cause of injury death in Ohio, surpassing motor vehicle crashes for the first time on record. This trend has continued through 2015. 
  • From 2000 to 2015, Ohio’s death rate due to unintentional drug poisonings increased 642 percent, and the increase in deaths has been driven largely by opioid-related overdoses.
  • In Ohio, there were 411 fatal unintentional drug overdoses in the year 2000 growing to 3,050 deaths in 2015.
  • On average, approximately eight people die each day in Ohio due to unintentional drug overdose. 

Cost to Ohio

Drug overdoses are associated with high direct and indirect costs. Unintentional fatal drug overdoses cost Ohioans $2.0 billion in 2012 in medical and work loss costs; while non-fatal, hospital-admitted drug poisonings cost an additional $39.1 million. The total cost equaled an average of $5.4 million each day in medical and work loss costs in Ohio.

What is ODH doing to address the issue?

  • Collaboration: The Prescription Drug Abuse Action Group (PDAAG), coordinated by ODH, is an ongoing multi-disciplinary work group devoted to reducing prescription drug abuse and overdose. The PDAAG serves as a point-of-contact for sharing information and resources regarding prescription drug abuse across the state. The PDAAG (while known as the Poison Action Group) developed recommendations in 2009-2010 that provided the basis for the Ohio Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force's (OPDATF) work. OPDATF recommendations were incorporated into Ohio House Bill 93 which became state law in May of 2011.  The PDAAG is currently working on strategies to expand access to naloxone distribution programs across the state, facilitate use of Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) in health care settings, promote the adoption of opioid prescribing guidelines and increase education of health care professionals on these topics.  The PDAAG welcomes new members.  
  • Opioid Prescribing Guidelines:  Providing support for the Governor’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team (GCOAT), Prescriber Education Work Group including development of opioid prescribing guidelines including:   
  • Naloxone Distribution:  Building on its commitment to stem the dramatic increase in drug overdose deaths in Ohio, the ODH VIPP allocated support and technical assistance to initiate Project DAWN (Deaths Avoided with Naloxone), Ohio’s first naloxone distribution program in the Portsmouth City Health Department in Scioto County. The VIPP is currently providing technical assistance, resources and financial support to expand Project DAWN sites to other counties in Ohio, including Ross, Stark and Hamilton. 
  • Community Projects: Prescription drug overdose prevention projects are funded by the Violence and Injury Prevention Program (VIPP) through the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant from CDC. These projects are funded to implement comprehensive community-based efforts to address prescription drug abuse and overdose through: coalition development, community needs assessment and evaluation, formation of a poison death review committee, and development of policy, systems and environmental change strategies to address the issue. Examples of funded strategies include:
    • Expanding access to naloxone distribution programs such as Project DAWN and/or promotion of naloxone co-prescribing for high risk patients.
    • Facilitating health care system changes such as implementation of opioid prescribing guidelines and other pain management strategies.
    • Obtaining commitment of prescribers to use the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System (OARRS) prescription monitoring program
    • Expanding access to sustainable drug disposal options
  • Overdose Surveillance The VIPP is committed to better understanding of the circumstances surrounding overdose deaths in order to prevent them. Data reports and resources are available. 
  • Medication Disposal: Encouraging excess drug disposal solutions and methods through the development of drug take-back event guidelines and promotion of permanent drug drop boxes.   


  • Public Awareness:  ODH has launched a comprehensive awareness campaign, known as Prescription for Prevention: Stop the Epidemic, to educate Ohioans about the epidemic of prescription drug misuse, abuse and overdose. Campaign materials include state and county factsheets, brochures and TV and radio public service announcements.


Last Updated: 9/27/2018