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Cuyahoga County Public Health Alarm for Death by Overdose

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office issued a warning Tuesday after 69 suspected overdose deaths in March and 13 in the first five days of April.

Toxicological testing has not yet confirmed which drugs have caused the recent rise, but at present fentanyl and cocaine appear to be the most common drugs found in overdose deaths, according to a release from Dr. Thomas Gilson’s office.

The release says data from just the first quarter of 2021

makes it premature to project how fatal this year will be, but if deaths continue at this pace, Cuyahoga County could see over 700 deaths in overdose.

The last time Cuyahoga County suffered over 700 deaths was in 2017, when fentanyl, cocaine and carfentanil were the most common drugs found in our overdose deaths.

In March 2017, Cuyahoga County suffered 39 overdose deaths and a total of 727 for the year.

The doctor says at this rate that expected deaths in 2021 could exceed it around 739.

“This is a serious development and society should be aware of this increase in overdose
deaths, ”Gilson said. “Some preliminary data suggest that minority communities may be more numerous
vulnerable in this outbreak. Risk reduction strategies such as naloxone kits and fentanyl test strips
are available free of charge and are effective in saving lives. ”

FREE fentanyl test strips are available at the following locations:
• Circle Health Services (12201 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44106 | 216.721.4010
• Care Alliance Clinic (2916 Central Avenue Cleveland, OH 44115 | 216.535.9100)
• Care Alliance Clinic (1530 St. Clair Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44114 | 216.781.6724)
• MetroHealth Mobile Device (3370 W.25th Street, Cleveland, OH 44109)

If you or someone you know is actively using or recovering from opioid addiction, contact Project
DAWN for information at 216-778-5677. Eligible program participants receive a FREE Naloxone kit, the opioid antidote.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health (ADAMHS) offers a 24-hour crisis hotline at 216-623-6888.

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