TRUMBULL CO., Ohio (WKBN) – The number of overdoses reported last year in Trumbull County was the lowest in five years while the number of overdose deaths — if those pending come back positive — will be the second-highest in five years.

Today, we talked with an expert in overdose recovery who’s been dealing with the opioid epidemic since it started in 2017. She says there are reasons for both.

We asked Lauren Thorp, recovery director for the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board, if she thought we’d still be talking about the opioid crisis five years after it hit the county.

“No, never thought it,” she said.

It started with the abuse of prescription drugs like Oxycontin, which through stricter laws and awareness was brought under control.

“Never predicted that it would simply be replaced by stronger opioids,” Thorp said.

That stronger opioid was fentanyl. Of Trumbull County’s 99 confirmed overdose deaths last year, 85 percent involved fentanyl. The number of overdose deaths peaked in 2017 at 135, then fell, but has risen steadily ever since. If the 22 unconfirmed deaths from last year prove positive, there will be 121 overdose deaths in 2021.

  • 2017: 135
  • 2018: 73
  • 2019: 91
  • 2020: 116
  • 2021: 121

“That is purely attributed to the fentanyl in our community. Fentanyl is a very potent drug. So when you look at fatal overdoses, you can attribute that to how potent are the drugs in your community,” Thorp said.

While overdose deaths in Trumbull County are rising, overdoses reported at emergency rooms have fallen. Though there was a spike in 2020, in 2021, overdoses were the lowest they’ve been in five years.

  • 2017: 1,254
  • 2018: 764
  • 2019: 698
  • 2020: 879
  • 2021: 590

“We attribute that to the availability of Narcan in our community. The different agencies have done a great job of making Narcan available to family members and people in our community who may need that,” Thorp said.

As has been the case since 2017, the 44483 zip code, which includes Warren’s east side and a part of Champion, had the most reported overdoses at 136. Warren’s west side was second at 94. Two-thirds of the overdoses were men and the age range with the most was 31 to 40.