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Fatal opioid overdoses expected to exceed last year in Lorain County

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OBERLIN — The number of deaths related to drug overdoses in Lorain County is expected to exceed the total from last year, but county Coroner Dr. Stephen Evans said it’s still too soon to say by how much.

Overdose deaths have slowed over the last six months, he said, but the uptick in the first half of the year is enough to outpace last year’s total of 132 overdose deaths.

“We’re at least where we were last year, which is terrible,” Evans said.

The reason Evans can’t say exactly how many overdose deaths there were this year is because the lab is so overwhelmed by the different kinds of fentanyl on the streets and it takes much longer for complete tests on samples.

Evans said fentanyl is the leading cause of overdose deaths, followed by cocaine and then heroin.

Because the fentanyl is being made from different labs in China, Mexico and the United States, if the lab tests for “just plain fentanyl, it will come up negative,” Evans said.

Evans said the lab is backed up about a month, which is a first.

“I won’t have the results for this year probably until February,” Evans said.

He said there are about 10 new kinds of fentanyl coming out on a daily basis, which is costly because the lab has to tests substances over and over again.

He said police have an easier time identifying where the drugs are coming from because each kind of fentanyl is slightly different so authorities can track the specific drugs back to the dealer.

For Evans and his office though, the ordeal of testing and retesting substances is frustrating.

“We’re having a lot of trouble right now because it’s all these designer drugs we haven’t seen in years,” he said.

Contact Jodi Weinberger at 329-7245 or jweinberger@chroniclet.com.Follow her on Twitter @Jodi_Weinberger.


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