Overdose Deaths Up in 2017
By Nancy Bowman
Miami County, which saw a record 25 overdose deaths in the first six months of 2017, ended the year with 31 confirmed overdose deaths and two others pending rulings, according to county Coroner William Ginn's annual report.
The county recorded 20 overdose deaths in 2016.
The county overall had 252 deaths for the year, Dr. Ginn reported. Of those, 191 were natural deaths, 46 accidental (including overdose) and 11 suicides.
The overdose deaths were broken down as follows: one caused by fentanyl alone, one unknown drug/substance and the remainder by multiple drugs. Those drugs included marijuana, benzodiazepines, cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil, other fentanyls, alcohol, amphetamines, gabapentin and others.
After the county started 2017 with 102 overdoses in January, there were similar numbers for a few months before a decline was seen, particularly in the second half of the year. Charts from Miami County Public Health reflect that decline with around 50 overdoses per month seen at hospitals since late summer.
A year-end report showed 778 drug overdoses for the year 2017. Of those, 275 were in Troy; 310 in Piqua; 93 in Tipp City; 52 in West Milton; and 25 in Covington. Of the overdoses, 65 percent involved people ages 25-49.
Law enforcement and health officials said during the year they were seeing more methamphetamine and cocaine in addition to the opioid epidemic.
Steven Justice, a Troy attorney and member of the Miami County Heroin Coalition, said last week that a decline in overdoses has meant fewer overdose deaths.
"The results are good news, and it has been the result a community-wide effort. The Coalition's efforts certainly have helped. However, the broader battle with drug abuse still rages," he said. Justice, too, mentioned the increase in use of other drugs including methamphetamines.
He said there is still "much work to do, but we are definitely encouraged to see that the campaign against opioids in this area appears to be yielding some measurable and positive results."
In February, a new faith-based recovery home for men will open in Troy. The home will provide a structured environment where men can live after they come out of detox and try to adjust to life. A men's detox house - the Hope House - was opened by the Miami County Recovery Council in Troy in early 2017.
The recovery house will house up to five men at any time and will be run by Joshua Recovery Ministries Inc., which has homes for men in Montgomery County. The Troy house is being paid for with donations from churches, individuals and other organizations, Justice said.