August deadliest month for opioid overdose deaths in Cuyahoga County history

Posted at 2:13 PM, Sep 08, 2016

August was the deadliest month for heroin or fentanyl overdose deaths in Cuyahoga County ever, according to data released by the medical examiner's office on Thursday. 

Fifty-two people died as a result of fatal overdoses last month, adding to the county's increasing number of opioid related deaths. Overdose deaths are on pace to be the most in history. 

Additionally, there were 14 opioid related overdoses in the first week of September in Cuyahoga County. The deaths were due to heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil or a combination of all three. 

Two of the 14 overdose deaths were due to carfentanil, a large animal sedative. Carfentanil is 100 times more deadly than fentanyl and 2500 times more than heroin. About two milligrams of carfentanil, the most potent commercially used opioid, can knock out a 200-pound elephant. 

RELATED: Carfentanil, powerful drug that sedates elephants, detected in Cuyahoga County

Those who overdosed on heroin or fentanyl in August where between 20 and 71 years old. Thirty-nine were males and 13 were females. Six were black and 46 were white. 

Test results of carfentanil are pending for the 52 overdose deaths. 

There have been 330 overdose deaths in 2016. It is a huge spike from the 228 overdose deaths recorded in 2015. About 500 overdose deaths are expected by the end of the year, the medical examiner said.

The resurgence of the dangerous street drug, which rose to prominence in the 1970s, began significantly increasing in Cuyahoga County in 2010, in which there were 91 overdose deaths, the medical examiner said. Before that, there were 40 heroin-related deaths in 2007 and 64 in 2008 and 2009. 

In 2016, during January and February, one person died everyday from a heroin or fentanyl overdose. Eleven people have died on average each week since March, the medical examiner said.  


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