Ohio's Overdose Epidemic

Since 2010, Ohio’s overdose rate has been above average compared to the United States, according to the CDC, but according to provisional data from the CDC, Ohio is one of eight states that has a declining number of overdose deaths in the past 12 months compared to the rest of the country.

“Others are still at these high numbers that aren't showing the decrease in the same way that Ohio is. So we know that our work is having a positive impact,” Lori Criss, Director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services said. “But we have to do more because the numbers are still at record rates. And they're not numbers… It's lives lost… Friends, family, sisters, brothers, parents; these are these are unacceptable deaths. They're preventable. And we're going to continue to keep working everyday to end that.”

Within the numbers and statistics of the overdose epidemic are the voices of real people and communities affected by the crisis daily. From the heart of Portsmouth, Ohio, the Ohio River city that’s widely considered America’s ‘opioid ground zero,’ and beyond to both urban and rural areas across Ohio including Youngstown and Newark, the voices of those very people are featured in this story.

In the spring of 2022, Leslie Ostronic and I produced a documentary short film titled, Facing Fentanyl. In an effort to expand our coverage, we collaborated on the below project together — find Leslie's images from this project on her site here.

If you or someone you know needs help as this epidemic continues, here is a list of resources found while working on this project:

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