Home » Blog Articles » community behavioral health centers » Ohio Community Behavioral Health Data: Opioid Doses by County

Some people may initially think that the highest rates of opioid use occur in Ohio’s largest cities. However, that is not necessarily true.

Contrary to what some people might assume, the counties that contain the cities of Columbus (Franklin), Cincinnati (Hamilton) and Cleveland (Cuyahoga) were not the outliers. Instead, the use and rates of opioid consumption is more complex. 

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) has a significant amount of data on this topic. When one looks at opioid usage factors like doses per patient, doses per capita or number of primary diagnoses of opiate use disorder; a more nuanced pattern emerges.

It should be noted that this information is generated from Community Behavioral Health claims data from the OhioMHAS website. Community Behavioral Health Centers or CBHCs are considered MITS types 84 and 95 certifications by the state of Ohio. The collected data does not include patients who received and paid for medical services through private insurance or self-pay.

Prescriptions Per Patient:

An interesting pattern appears when examining the data involving the prescribing of opioid- based drugs for pain relief in Ohio. OhioMHAS data gathered the average number of opioid doses per patient. In other words, this is the average number of opioid doses prescribed to patients in a specific Ohio county during a calendar year.

For example, let’s say an Ohio county had data displaying a prescription opioid dosage amount of 100 per patient. This would mean that for each person living in that given county who had an opioid medication prescribed to her or him, 100 doses of opioid-based medications were prescribed in the county during that specific year.

The data includes opioid oral solids and transdermal patches, with a single dose defined as one pill or patch. The compiled research is based on the county where a patient legally resides, and not where the prescription was physically filled.

OhioMHAS generates this data by tracking the total number of prescription opioid doses prescribed to a county’s residents during a given calendar year. This number is then divided by the total number of patients receiving the opioid prescriptions within that specific county.

It should be noted that these final numbers are likely underestimating the actual opioid prescription rates per capita. This is due to the fact, as already previously mentioned, private pay and self-pay treatment options are excluded. In addition, drugs that were dispensed at physician offices and the Veteran’s Administration (VA) are not included in calculations from OhioMHAS.

In 2021, the state-wide average for opioid doses dispensed per Ohio patient was 213.2. The Ohio counties with the highest rates of prescribed opioid doses per patient were all located in the southern portion of the state. They are as follows:

  • Vinton County: 345.3 doses per patient.
  • Pike County: 343.2 doses per patient.
  • Scioto County: 328.6 doses per patient.

On the other side of the scale, the Ohio counties with the lowest rates of prescribed opioid doses per patient were in the central and northwestern portions of the state. These counties were:

  • Holmes County: 131.6 doses per patient.
  • Delaware County: 158.6 doses per patient.
  • Williams County: 161.1 doses per patient.

Opioid Doses Per Capita:

OhioMHAS also tracks the average number of opioid doses dispensed to each individual resident in every Ohio county for a given year. However, this is not based on whether each individual resident received an opioid prescription. The statistic includes all residents of that given county. The per capita measurement is based on 2020 U.S. Census data.

In this case, data indicates that the state-wide average for opioid doses dispensed per capita for Ohio was 27.2 in 2021. The counties with the highest rates of dispensed doses per capita were located in the central/southeastern and southern portions of the state. These counties were:

  • Adams County (Southern Ohio): per capita of 56.9.
  • Perry County (Central/Southeastern Ohio): per capita of 50.8.
  • Scioto County (Southern Ohio): per capita of 50.3.

Inversely, the counties with the lowest rates of dispensed opioid doses per capita were in the Central/Northeast regions and eastern portion of the state. These counties include:

  • Holmes County (Central/Northeastern Ohio): per capita of 8.1.
  • Monroe County (Eastern Ohio): per capita of 15.5.
  • Geauga County (Northeastern Ohio): per capita of 16.2.

The data excludes treatment services that were paid for through private insurance and self-pay, so it is challenging to draw conclusions. However, tracking this kind of data is helpful in order to better understand developing trendlines and patterns.

Especially, due to the fact that opioid-related overdoses have increased in recent years. The hope is that the rates of addiction can be lowered or perhaps one day eliminated.

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