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Cuyahoga Drug Court Judge Welcomes Decline in Overdose Deaths, Says Crisis Is 'In Progress'


Cuyahoga County officials are hoping they’ve turned the corner on the opioid crisis that caused 727 overdose deaths in 2017. A new report from the medical examiner shows a significant decline in overdose deaths in 2018.

Preliminary figures indicate overdose deaths dropped 23 percent from 2017 to 2018. Death from cocaine was down 15 percent,  from fentanyl down 18 percent, from heroin down 36 percent and from carfentanil down 87 percent. It was the first decline in overdose fatalities in 11 years. 

Officials say increased availability for treatment is a major reason for the improvement.  Another is the overdose reversal drug Naloxone.  Metrohealth distributed 2000 kits last year and reported 400 patient revivals.  

But drug court judge Joan Synenberg cautions the problem is not solved.

“Deaths is down but use is not down. You see how much effort it takes from all of our community partners to keep people from dying.  This is a crisis that is in progress,” Synenberg said. 

 Officials say other counties in Northeast Ohio expect to see similar improvements.