An increase in opioid overdoses in Lorain County with two peaks in the first seven days of May should indicate that early education could likely prevent deaths.
The unusually high rates of opioid overdose-related emergency room visits occurred on May 1 and May 7.
And Lorain County public health officials said it was the first time two anomalies had occurred in such close time.
It is very worrying.
Lorain County Public Health Commissioner Mark Adams told county commissioners at their May 11 weekly meeting that members of that community continue to die from opioid overdoses.
Adams also announced a sobering statistic that already this year 33 people have died from an opioid overdose.
And it’s not just this year that we’re seeing worrying numbers.
In 2021, 147 people died from opioid overdoses.
A year earlier, at the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic, 143 people died of opioid overdoses.
And 2019 wasn’t much better either, when 106 people died of drug overdoses.
Many overdoses are attributed to fentanyl, which is a dangerous synthetic opioid that you cannot see, smell or taste.
Fentanyl is mixed with street drugs including cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin.
And the effects of the pandemic continue to impact overall health in Lorain County.
Adams also revealed that without the availability of naloxone, which can reverse an overdose when given, overdose deaths would be much higher.
Narcan, used by local public safety departments, is a form of naloxone.
Adams believes the desperation, loneliness and uncertainty of the pandemic have pushed people into vulnerable places where they become more susceptible to drug addiction.
He added that some people’s minds are starting to go into areas where they weren’t going before.
Coincidentally, at the May 11 commissioners’ meeting, they endorsed Tom Stuber, former president and CEO of The LCADA Way, to represent Lorain County in a state organization created to distribute the money that he’s receiving as part of opioid court settlements.
This money will likely be used in programs designed to combat opioid addiction.
But, education is needed to prevent or deter people from using dangerous drugs, especially young people in this community.
And the state wants to introduce a law to teach school children about the harmful effects of illicit drug use.
There is a bill pending in the Ohio House of Representatives on substance abuse prevention.
It’s called “House Bill 367 – Opioid Abuse Prevention”.
The bill would require the Governor’s Office Opioid Action Team to make recommendations for prescription opioid abuse prevention education and submit those recommendations to the Department of Education for publish the recommendations online.
It also requires each local district school board to select a health program that includes instruction on the dangers of prescription opioid abuse.
According to the wording of the proposed bill, health education should include instructions on preventing the abuse of prescription opioids, with a focus on the prescription drug epidemic and the link between the abuse of prescription opioids and addiction to other drugs, such as heroin.
According to the wording of the proposed bill, based on national data provided by the National Institute of Substance Abuse and the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding the misuse of prescription opioids and the abuse of heroin, prevention education is vital for all primary and secondary school students. schools.
Level recommendations are K-12 and the curriculum provided should be further developed and modified to match industry standards.
And if overdoses aren’t enough health-wise, Adams warns that cancer diagnoses are skyrocketing.
During the pandemic, many people have postponed routine medical checkups.
As a result, there has been an increase in stage 3 and stage 4 cancer diagnoses.
Adams recommends returning to medical checkups and regular exercise.
Typically, Lorain County reports 1,900 cancer diagnoses per year.
In 2020 and 2021, that number has dropped by 80%.
For many years, Lorain County Public Health has urged the public to get out and start walking.
Some people will continue to abuse opiates.
But, early education can probably save lives.