Prescription-drug overdose deaths in Ohio inched downward last year for the first time in 10 years, reports the Columbus Dispatch. Four fewer people fatally overdosed in 2011 than in 2010. While the statewide decline is small, more than half of Ohio's counties saw a reduction — including virtually all of southern Ohio, considered the heart of the problem.
The persistent correlation between the number of pills handed out and the number of drug-related deaths held true: 17 fewer people lost their lives in Scioto County. Credit for the possible turnaround is multifaceted: a concentrated effort to close “pill mills” that dispensed prescriptions or drugs in large quantities, a new state law cracking down on pain clinics, an active public-private education campaign, and doctors' newfound awareness about the dangers of overprescribing addictive painkillers.