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Health, Science & Environment

Cocaine overdose deaths increasing as fentanyl deaths decrease in Franklin County

A used syringe is shown on a sidewalk in San Francisco.
Jeff Chiu
A used syringe is shown on a sidewalk in San Francisco, Thursday, May 10, 2018.

Cocaine overdose deaths are rising in Franklin County as fentanyl overdose deaths fall, data from the county coroners office shows.

Fentanyl deaths are still the leading cause of overdose deaths in Franklin County, nearly doubling that of cocaine deaths. But those rates are decreasing year over year for fentanyl and rising for cocaine since 2020.

There were 740 fentanyl overdose deaths compared to 297 cocaine deaths in 2020. Last year fentanyl dropped by 57 deaths and cocaine deaths rose by 100 compared to 2020.

These trends are also showing up in the county coroner's data for the final quarter of 2021 compared to the final quarter of 2022. While fentanyl dropped by 12 deaths during this time, cocaine rose by 16 deaths.

In 2021 only 27% of all overdose deaths were with a single substance while the other 73% of overdose deaths were the cause of a cocktail of drugs. That number jumped to 79% of overdose deaths including a mixture of drugs in 2022.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.