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Preliminary 2018 Drug Overdose Death Statistics


Media contacts:
Christopher Harris: (216) 443-7157; cbharris@cuyahogacounty.us
Miranda Pomiecko: (216) 698-2546; mpomiecko@cuyahogacounty.us

Drug Overdose Deaths Decrease for the First Time in Nearly a Decade

CLEVELAND – Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish and Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Gilson today announced drug overdose deaths in Cuyahoga County have decreased for the first time in nearly a decade. The County suffered at least 560 drug overdose deaths in 2018; a 23% decrease from 2017 (727 drug overdose deaths).

"This is good news–and it is definitely due to the hard work so many in our community have put in to stem the tide of this terrible crisis," said County Executive Armond Budish. "But we cannot lose sight of the fact that too many people continue to die–families are still being destroyed; lives are being lost. I commend all of our partners as they continue to work to save and change lives." 

Other trends/data include: 
  • 560 Total Drug Overdose Deaths (includes prescription drugs) (727 in 2017) 
  • 440 Opioid-Related Deaths (includes prescription drugs) (556 in 2017) 
  • 404 Fentanyl-Related Deaths (492 in 2017) 
  • 255 Cocaine-Related Deaths (300 in 2017) 
  • 153 Heroin-Related Deaths (240 in 2017) 
  • 24 Carfentanil-Related Deaths (191 in 2017) 

Note: Overlap will occur with drug-related death statistics. Most drug overdose cases contain mixtures of drugs; therefore, they may be counted multiple times. If someone dies from a combination of fentanyl and cocaine intoxication, that death will be counted as a fentanyl-related death and a cocaine-related death.

"This is a gratifying development after so many years of effort on the part of many people. While all of our investigations are not finalized, it has become clear that 2018 will represent a step in the right direction with a decline in drug fatalities in our county," said Dr. Thomas Gilson. "We are by no means back to where we were before this crisis started and these numbers, while encouraging, really indicate we need to strenuously continue our efforts." 

While the decrease in drug overdose fatalities is notable, we are still in the middle of a deadly epidemic. However, several public agencies, factors and ongoing initiatives may have played a role in the recent decrease in overdose deaths, including:
  • Naloxone 
  • Treatment and Recovery Services 
  • Prevention Education 
  • Declining Opioid Prescriptions 
  • Community Partnerships 
  • State and Federal Collaborations 

Read additional information and view the complete report.