Jurisdiction: Summit County, population 541,000
Summit County has been plagued by drug overdose deaths: Between 2015 and 2019, the county recorded 1,017 fatal overdoses and 8,486 emergency room overdose visits. According to Ohio’s Automated Rx Reporting System, 123,768,000 opioid doses were dispensed in Summit County during that same period, which equates to 229 opioid doses for every county resident. Easy access to prescription opioids in Summit County has contributed to the high rates of opioid use disorder and overdose fatalities.
In response, county officials created the Summit County Opiate and Addiction Task Force, which has implemented a comprehensive set of harm reduction strategies. Strategies related to safe medicine usage, storage, and disposal are an important component of this comprehensive plan. New state prescribing and reporting laws as well as prescriber education have decreased the number of prescription opioids dispensed per capita from a high of 19.4 dose/capita in the second quarter of 2014 to a low of 7.8 doses/capita in the fourth quarter of 2019. Safe medicine disposal efforts have decreased the number of prescription pills in medicine cabinets by up to 5.5 million doses.
The Cuyahoga Falls Police Department will use the program funding to enhance existing safe medicine disposal activities through the distribution of 31,750 at-home medicine disposal pouches, in conjunction with the Summit County Community Partnership. These pouches will be distributed through a network of more than 115 local organizations that are currently distributing pouches. This project will result in the disposal of an additional 1 million prescription pills.