Ohio has faced significant challenges due to the drug epidemic plaguing the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2020, the state recorded the second-highest number of drug overdose deaths nationwide, totaling 5,215 fatalities. Nonetheless, not all areas within Ohio grapple with drug-related issues to the same extent, as certain regions bear a heavier burden of drug use and overdoses.
The Worst City for Drug Use in Ohio
A study conducted by American Addiction Centers, a prominent provider of addiction treatment services, identified Omaha as the city in Ohio most severely impacted by drug use. The study assessed 51 metropolitan areas across the United States, examining the percentage of residents who had experimented with various drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. Additionally, the study assigned a weighted score to each drug based on its severity and potential harm.
Omaha stood out with the highest percentage of marijuana use in the nation, with over 60% of its residents having tried the drug at least once. Furthermore, Omaha shared the highest rate of heroin use with Indianapolis, with 3.4% of its population having used the drug. The city also experienced notable levels of cocaine and methamphetamine use, ranking third and fourth, respectively, among the cities examined.
The study’s comprehensive evaluation concluded that Omaha was the most severely affected city in the United States in terms of drug use. It was closely followed by Wichita, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and Mesa, all of which tied for second place.
The Worst County for Drug Overdose in Ohio
To gauge the drug problem in Ohio, one can analyze drug overdose death rates by county. According to data from the Ohio Department of Health, Scioto County recorded the highest overdose death rate in the state in 2020, with 130.1 deaths per 100,000 residents—the highest ever documented in Ohio.
Scioto County encompasses Portsmouth, a city that has garnered the unenviable nickname of the “pill mill of America” among public health experts. While Portsmouth was once an industrially thriving town, it has experienced economic decline and social deterioration in recent decades.
It became a hub for prescription opioid abuse, diversion, as well as the trafficking of heroin and fentanyl. A significant portion of its residents fell victim to painkiller addiction and other drugs, leading to alarming overdose and fatality rates.
Following Scioto County, Montgomery County took second place, registering a rate of 93.8 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2020. Dayton, a city within Montgomery County, has also been severely impacted by the opioid epidemic. In 2016, it held the unfortunate distinction of having the highest overdose death rate among major U.S. cities.
Since then, Dayton has implemented various strategies to combat the crisis, such as expanding access to naloxone, a medication that can reverse opioid overdoses, and creating a community-based response team that offers support and referrals to individuals who have experienced overdoses.
Factors That Influence Drug Problems in Ohio
Various factors influence the prevalence of drug problems in different cities and counties in Ohio, including:
- Socioeconomic Status: Poverty, unemployment, low educational attainment, and limited opportunities can increase the vulnerability of individuals and communities to drug use and addiction.
- Availability and Accessibility: The presence and supply of drugs in an area can significantly impact drug use and overdose rates, with some areas having more sources and dealers, making substances more available and accessible.
- Prevention and Treatment: The availability and quality of prevention and treatment services can influence the level of drug use and overdose. Areas with more resources and programs to prevent drug abuse and address addiction may experience lower rates of drug-related issues.
- Enforcement and Regulation: The level and effectiveness of law enforcement and drug regulation can also impact drug use and overdose rates. Areas with stricter and more consistent policies and practices may see reduced drug-related crimes and better control over legal drug distribution.
Drug abuse poses a grave concern in many Ohio cities and counties. However, the severity of the issue varies based on numerous indicators and factors. Recent data and studies indicate that Omaha ranks as the most heavily impacted city in Ohio due to its high rates of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine use.
Scioto County, with its elevated rate of fatal overdoses involving opioids and other drugs, stands out as the most affected county in Ohio. These areas require increased attention and intervention from public health authorities and stakeholders to address their drug problems and mitigate their adverse impact.