Document Type


Publication Date



The State of Ohio is experiencing an epidemic of pharmaceutical opioid and heroin abuse that has contributed to unprecedented loss of life through unintentional drug overdoses (2012 Drug Overdose Deaths, Ohio Department of Health Violence and Injury Prevention Program report: March 2014). For example, from 2010 through 2012, unintentional drug overdose deaths in Ohio increased from 1,544 to 1,914—a 24% increase (Unintentional Drug Overdose Death Rates, 2007—2012, Ohio Department of Health Office of Vital Statistics, March 2014). Montgomery County, Ohio, has been one of the state’s epicenters of unintentional drug overdose deaths. Unintentional drug overdose deaths increased from 120 in 2010 to 125 in 2011, and up to 152 in 2012 in Montgomery County.

Starting in late 2011 a dramatic increase in the number of accidental drug overdoses related to heroin use was observed in Montgomery County. In 2011, 46 (37% of all cases) overdose deaths involved heroin, compared to 87 (57%) in 2012. Simultaneously, prescription opioids present in drug overdoses declined from being present in 76% of all drug overdose cases in 2010 to 66% in 2011, to 53% in 2012. The significant increase in heroin mentions in Montgomery County served as the underlying rationale for the main research question guiding this study: Are the trends in drug mentions related to unintentional drug overdose deaths in Montgomery County similar to, or different from, trends found in drug overdose deaths in other Ohio Counties?

This study is a collaborative effort between Center for Interventions, Treatment, and Addictions Research in the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine and the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office, which provided the unintentional drug overdose data on which this report is based. In this Report, we compare trends observed in overdose deaths in Montgomery County from 2010 through June 2013 with drug overdose data observed in 23 other Ohio Counties grouped together. We also compare trends in unintentional drug overdose deaths in Montgomery County (the only urban county) with trends observed in standard regional groupings of the 23 other counties: Suburban; Rural; Appalachian.