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Prescription Drug Abuse

From 1999 to 2008, Ohio’s unintentional poisoning death rate increased by more than 300 percent. Unintentional drug/medication-related poisoning deaths have been the largest driving force in the overall increase in unintentional injury death rates.

Cuyahoga County is one of the top five counties in Ohio for reported prescription drug overdoses. In order to combat this growing public health problem, the Cuyahoga County Prescription for Prevention was formed in June 2010 with the goal of decreasing the number of deaths due to the misuse of prescription medications and increasing awareness among those at highest risk. The magnitude of the problem is illustrated in the following facts:

  • In 2007, unintentional drug overdoses became the leading cause of death in Ohio surpassing motor vehicle crashes and suicides for the first time on record.
  • White males have the highest death rate from unintentional poisoning by pain killers. White females represent the fastest-growing risk group.
  • In 2007 and 2008, an average of four people per day died in Ohio from an overdose attributed to the misuse of prescription pain medications.

Ohio Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force Final Recommendations
On April 2, 2010, former Governor Ted Strickland signed Executive Order 2010-4S, establishing the Ohio Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force. The Task Force was created to develop a coordinated and comprehensive approach to Ohio’s prescription drug abuse epidemic. The group was comprised of 33 members with a wide range of professional backgrounds and perspectives including: state and local public health officials, health provider board and association representatives, state and local law enforcement, local government officials, state agency representatives and legislators.

The Task Force was charged with meeting regularly to develop and recommend potential remedies to the growing misuse and abuse of prescription drugs in Ohio.

Due to the urgency of this problem, the Task Force was required to submit an initial progress report to the Governor and the leaders of the Ohio General Assembly by May 17, 2010. The progress report included initial recommendations encouraging support for community education efforts such as drug take back programs and social marketing campaigns, and charged the Task Force Work Groups to explore and identify potential solutions for inclusion in the Task Force Final Report.

In the final report, the Task Force and its Work Groups developed 20 recommendations. In order to ensure the state’s approach is both multifaceted and comprehensive, the recommendations address issues related to treatment, law enforcement, public health and regulation.


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