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Opioid overdose deaths in Cuyahoga County continue to climb

So far this year in Cuyahoga County, 629 people have died from drug overdoses, 464 of those involved heroin, fentanyl and cocaine.

CLEVELAND — The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s office released updated numbers of people who died of drug overdose in October and a common link among most is fentanyl.

A total of 35 people died in October, but that number may rise as they wait on lab results on 14 others.

Of those 35 cases, 17 were city of Cleveland residents, 16 were from the suburbs and two cases were from out of the county: one in Akron and one in Jefferson.

The victims ranged in age from 23 to 76.

Additional data shows 23 of the 35 people who died were male, 12 female and while most were white, the death toll included three LatinX and 13 African Americans.

This public health crisis has now spread from the suburbs to the inner city and the rate of African American deaths involving fentanyl is 35% of all victims in 2022, a rate higher than all preceding years.

As many as 29 cocaine-related deaths occurred in October 2022 with as many as 20 being mixed with fentanyl, heroin, or both.

Martina Moore, Ph.D. runs Moore Counseling and Mediation Services, focusing on mental health and addiction treatment.

She’s noticed the trend of African Americans using opioids rising since 2020. However, she says it’s not because they’re using those types of drugs.

She says fentanyl is laced throughout most of the illicit street drug supply.

Her program, called "Brother, you're on my mind," sends a mental health team into African American communities to talk about what's in the street drug supply and why it's so dangerous.

She explains that the drugs everyone thought were clean, are now laced with fentanyl, which creates addiction and boosts demand for drug dealers. She also explains the importance of treatment, that addiction is an illness and there are resources available to help.

She says African Americans are typically resistant to mental health help.

So far this year in Cuyahoga County, 629 people have died from drug overdoses, 464 of those involved heroin, fentanyl and cocaine. We're on track to match last year's rate of 675 and our deadliest year was 2017 with 727.

You can see more data from the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office below:

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