Drug Abuse Trends in Cleveland
Situated on the shores of Lake Erie, Cleveland, Ohio is home to 388,072 residents – with another 3.5 million in the greater Cleveland area (encompassing Akron and Canton). In 2008, the city ranked as the 11th most dangerous in the US. Multiple task forces, starting in the 1980s, formed to crack down on gang activity and drug-related crime. Recently however, Cleveland’s most-fatal concerns have come from the effects of the opioid epidemic.
Ohio’s Opioid Epidemic
Since 2000, drug-related fatalities have increased by almost 800% in Ohio. While prescription painkillers (a form of opioid) grew in popularity across the country (80% of the world’s opioid supply was consumed in the US) fentanyl and heroin quickly took over Cleveland. In 2017, fentanyl was responsible for 492 fatal drug overdoses in Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County alone; there were 727 total county overdose deaths. Previously, nationwide prescription drug-monitoring programs had cut down on the number of medications sold on the street. Consequently, many with dependencies turned to cheaper, more available alternatives, like heroin.
The amount of Cuyahoga County residents who misuse or abuse opioid prescriptions could fill First Energy Stadium and those that transition to heroin could fill up Quicken Loans Arena.
In the latter half of 2017, Ohio’s Substance Abuse Monitoring Network found that 33.7% of the 380 overdose fatalities it had handled in the previous six months involved heroin. Similarly, 89.8% of those cases also involved fentanyl. Cleveland law enforcement describe the most common form of heroin as a brown and white powder blend (often cut with other substances).
The most common cutting agents reported by Ohio’s crime lab were:
- Diphenhydramine (antihistamine)
- Fentanyl and fentanyl equivalents
- Mannitol (diuretic)
- Papverine (vasodilator)
- Quinine (antimalarial)
The number of overdose deaths attributed to carfentanil specifically (a potent fentanyl analog, 10,000 times stronger than morphine) tripled between 2016 and 2017 – climbing from 54 to 191.
Increasingly, cocaine and crack cocaine are being mixed with or co-abused alongside fentanyl and carfentanil. Cocaine, a stimulant, and fentanyl, a central nervous system depressant, produce counteractive effects that, instead of canceling each other out, make the body work harder to stay alive. As cocaine forces you to breathe harder and use more oxygen, drugs like fentanyl and heroin slow breathing and heart rate simultaneously; a potentially deadly combination.
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Addiction Statistics for Cleveland
In the last six months of 2017, Cuyahoga County processed 380 overdose fatalities, 38.4% of which involved cocaine (powdered and/or crack).
In 2014, 198 deaths were attributed to heroin overdose in Cuyahoga County.
50% of children are placed into Cleveland foster care primarily due to parental substance abuse.
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Addiction Treatment in Cleveland
Ohio has worked to create a comprehensive approach to reducing addiction and overdose, including increasing the accessibility of addiction treatment as well as legislative measures. Ohio passed a 911 Good Samaritan Law, giving immunity from arrest to anyone reporting an overdose (with few exceptions, such as for those on parole), and laws securing addiction treatment medication coverage and availability. Opioid treatment medication, like Suboxone, an anti-overdose medication, and naloxone, are now more easily accessible to residents. Moreover, syringe exchange programs in Cleveland have handled more than 495,000 needles annually and served approximately 4,000 new clients each year.
CenterPoint at the J. Glen Smith Health Center is a major provider of public health services in the area. The majority of its patients are between the ages of 35 and 44, followed by those between 45 and 54. Approximately 50% of participants are a part of the alcohol abuse program; cocaine addiction makes up 18%. For those who can pay, a sliding fee scale is applied to any charges.
Additionally, Cleveland offers Access to Recovery (ATR) vouchers to eligible residents of Cuyahoga, Lorain, Mahoning, Stark, and Summit counties. Vouchers can be used to “purchase substance abuse clinical treatment and recovery support services.”
Treatment services include:
- Intensive outpatient rehab
- Outpatient rehab
- Family Counseling
Getting Help in Cleveland
The effects of drug and alcohol abuse can overwhelm every part of an individual’s life. While some believe the cost of rehab is out of reach, the cost of addiction is much higher. A number of opportunities are available to anyone seeking recovery. Contact a dedicated treatment provider today to talk about available options.