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Meth, Cocaine, & Opioids Causing Overdoses

A disturbing trend developed in 2020 alongside the pandemic. People dying from accidental drug overdoses increased after a few years of decline. In Portage County there were 42 confirmed fatal overdoses (plus two cases of suspected overdoes pending the toxicology test results) making it the 3rd highest year of overdose deaths on record.

Another cause for concern is the ever-changing "drug of choice." Opioids, including prescription drugs, heroin, fentanyl, were dominate substances during the height of the opioid epidemic. This past year, many people also had cocaine and methamphetamine (meth) also found in their systems.

Meth and cocaine are highly addictive stimulant drugs that increase alertness, attention, and energy, as well as elevate blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration. Heart attacks, seizures, strokes, and organ failure are some of the consequences of a meth or cocaine overdose. These conditions can result in death, especially when mixing stimulants with opioids.

“While fentanyl is the primary driver of the increase in overdose deaths, a combination of illicit drugs seems to be becoming more prevalent in the overdoes,” stated Dr. Dean DePerro, who is the Portage County Coroner and the Medical Director of the Townhall II Opiate Recovery Clinic.

People need to be aware that fentanyl may be mixed into other drugs without a person’s knowledge.

“It is important that people have naloxone and know how to use it,” said Mental Health & Recovery Board Executive Director John Garrity. “Friends and family members need to check in on people who use drug regularly and call 911 immediately after recognizing an overdose or resuscitating a person with naloxone.”

Naloxone and overdose education is available to any Portage County resident through Project DAWN. Appointments are necessary. Call Townhall II’s business line at 330-678-3006 or the Portage County Health District at 330-296-9919.

Medication-assisted treatment is available at Townhall II and other clinics in Portage County. It is a proven, evidence-based treatment which uses medications along with counseling to help people recover from opioid use disorder. The most effective treatment for stimulant use disorders are psychosocial therapies such as motivational interviewing, contingency management, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Treatment is available here in Portage County with detoxification, residential treatment, counseling, medication-assisted treatment, and recovery housing services from our Board-funded providers – Townhall II, Family & Community Services, and Coleman Professional Services – as well as other local organizations.

If you need help, contact the Addiction Helpline at Townhall II at 330-678-3006.


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