Reducing Opiate Abuse in Summit County


The Summit County Opiate Task Force is comprised of over 200 Community Stakeholders representing medical, law enforcement, business, treatment providers, the courts, social services, and persons in recovery. Together, they are addressing this epidemic collaboratively in order to educate, inform, and advocate. Community problems require community solutions!

Over the last decade, we have seen a tremendous increase everywhere in street heroin. More recently this problem has been compounded by the diversion (sharing or sale) of prescription opiates (Oxycontin, hydrocodone, and fentanyl).


The Stats

In Summit County in 2014, opiates have jumped in ranking for both men and women; they are now the #1 drug of choice among all women entering ADM Board funded treatment, and the #2 drug of choice among all men. Opiates are involved in over two-thirds of our detoxifications and the majority of residential treatment admissions. These factors contribute to the much higher treatment costs for persons involved in this family of drugs, and have also put a strain on existing treatment resources.

Heroin is both more pure and less expensive than a generation ago. Today’s street heroin is 7-12 times more potent than in the 1970’s. Yet this epidemic isn’t isolated to heroin. Forty five percent (45%) of persons being admitted to addiction treatment in Summit County are there for prescription opiates (i.e. pain medication). These addictive pain medications are being diverted to the street economy in alarming proportions due to overprescribing.

Summit County Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System (OARRS) Data- 1st Quarter of 2015:
Summit County # of doses dispensed* # doses per patient # doses per capita
Opiates & Pain Relievers 8,476,332 145.41 15.08*

*annualized this equates to 60.32 doses for every Summit County resident.

• Over nine million doses of opiate pain medication were dispensed to Summit County residents between July and September of 2014.

• This is equivalent to more than 17 doses for every man, woman, and child in Summit County.

• In Summit County, our most recent Drug Take-back garnered 599 pounds of unused prescription medications.

• In 2014, the ADM Crisis Center provided 1,282 detox admissions, or about 3.5 every day.

• In 2014, Oriana House Crisis Center reported 3,215 Drop-in admissions, or almost 9 every day.

• Opiates are involved in almost 70% of these admissions.

• We know that 1 in 5 Ohio high school students reported using a prescription drug without a doctor’s prescription one or more times during their life.

• 8 out of 10 teens who misuse prescription drugs get the drugs from friends or relatives. This sharing happens with astonishing casualness with adults too.

• In (2015), Akron Emergency Medical Services (EMS) reports responding to 1.6 opiate overdose calls per day in Akron alone.

• A study recently done through Akron Children’s Hospital found that birth rates with Neonatal Narcotic Withdrawal (or Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome – NAS) have increased from 1.2 to 3.39 per 1,000 hospital births nationally since 2002.
•  Local data shows that NAS is more common in Akron than anywhere else in Ohio.
•  The average cost of a baby born with NAS was $56,139, with an average length of stay of 17 days; with a peak of 53 days.

• The Summit County Coroner’s Office reported as many as 83 deaths by overdose in 2014 could be attributed to opiates.

Strategic Planning Processes

As part of the first phase of planning, various Task Force documents including meeting minutes, data reports, and previous survey results were reviewed to formulate a new survey to asses priority issues regarding the opiate crisis in Summit County for 2017- 2018. A link to the online survey was sent out in late January. The second phase of the planning process was to conduct an in-person strategic planning meeting in February  with key stakeholders to develop actionable items around the priorities identified through the survey process.

The Survey Results

The survey had two components. The first was an open-ended item where respondents were asked to share their single greatest are of concern. The second asked respondents to rank issues derived from OTF document on importance. These two components provide a great starting point for action planning activities.

The area of biggest concern from the survey was the lack of access to treatment services. The most mentioned was: residential treatment, detoxification, MAT and about the lack of services for families, babies and first responders.

The second most frequently mentioned area of concern was the need for prevention services to get in front of the problem. Respondents mentioned the need for prevention of experimentation by young people, misuse of prescriptions, prevention use of illegal substances and preventing overprescribing.

The other areas tying for the third priority were the number of overdoses and the number of people dying by overdose, and the need of various segments of the public for education. The topics for education needed were: addiction as a complex, chronic brain disease; the role of law enforcement in behavioral health; the dangers of experimentation with opiates; how to access help; and that there are things working to make the problems better in the community.

We’ll look at the results for each of the subcommittees in further detail in upcoming stories on this crisis in our community.

For more information please go to:

To find help now, call the ADM Addiction Help Line: 330-940-1133

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