A look at the opioid crisis in Springfield in 2017.

Leaders to discuss high rate of opioid prescriptions in Clark County

More Clark County patients are dispensed opioid doses per capita than in the larger Montgomery County, and leaders are planning a forum to discuss why.

The statistics from the the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System obtained by the Springfield News-Sun show there has been a decrease in opioid doses between the beginning of 2017 and now. However, the most recent data recorded in the first quarter of 2018 show that, per capita, Clark County patients were dispensed more opioid doses than those in nearby Montgomery County.

The data show that during the first quarter of 2017, about 17.25 doses were dispensed per capita to Clark County patients. That number has dropped to below 16, the data show.

Montgomery County opioid doses per capita have dropped to 11.76. The state average is closer to 10.

The Clark County Substance Abuse Prevention Treatment and Support Coalition will host a medical provider forum as part of its forum series to address the statistics and to try to determine why the numbers are high.

“We need our best minds to sit down together and figure out why,” coalition coordinator Carey McKee said. “Is it because of our demographics? Do we have an older community that has worked labor-intensive jobs and they are in a lot of pain? Is that the reason?”

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The medical provider forum is set for Tuesday night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Hollenbeck Bayley Creative Arts and Conference Center.

The keynote speaker for the event will be Dr. Brad Lander, the clinical director of the addiction medicine department at the Ohio State University.

“We need to find out what our medical community thinks,” McKee said. “We need to sit down and discuss what everyone can do to help stop deaths.”

McKee said that just because the number of doses is high in Clark County doesn’t mean too many opioids are being prescribed by local doctors. However, discussing the issues with them could lead to solutions to fight the opioid epidemic, she said.

There were between 104 and 107 deaths related to drug overdoses last year in Clark County, depending on statistics. The Clark County Coroner’s Office has reported a significant drop in drug-related deaths so far this year. However, health officials warn that doesn’t mean fewer people are using drugs.

“We don’t think it’s getting better,” McKee said. “Any death is not good. Our goal is to prevent any substance abuse death. But Narcan is helping and the Narcan gives us the opportunity to intervene and provide treatment, and that’s what it’s doing.”

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McKee said every life is valuable, and the numbers in 2017 were devastating.

“We lost 107 people in this community,” she said. “To me, that’s a lot.”

The coalition has hosted previous forums with government officials, business leaders, and others, McKee said. It also plans to host a large community forum for parents of school-aged children soon.

“We have an opioid epidemic, and we have to get our groups together and tackle this as a community,” McKee said.

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