The 5 Most Dangerous Drugs In Ohio

Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

on December 10, 2022

According to the Ohio Department of Health, 5,083 Ohio residents died of drug overdoses in 2021. That’s the highest number ever recorded in the state. 

Like other U.S. residents, Ohioans struggle with many different types of drugs. However, some substances are riskier than others. Here are the five most dangerous drugs in the state.

5. Cocaine

In 2020, 25% of unintentional drug overdose deaths among Ohioans involved cocaine. 

Cocaine is a white powder made from the leaves of the coca plant. As a stimulant drug, it causes a rush of energy, confidence, and euphoria (intense joy). It can be snorted, smoked, or cooked into smokeable rocks called crack cocaine

Risks Of Cocaine Abuse

No matter how you use it, cocaine enters your system very rapidly. Because of this, it poses a high risk of overdose. Common symptoms of cocaine overdose include:

  • high blood pressure
  • increased body temperature
  • sweating
  • trouble breathing
  • severe anxiety
  • hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren’t there)

When left untreated, a cocaine overdose can lead to a seizure, heart attack, or stroke. 

Cocaine also comes with a high risk of drug addiction (also called substance use disorder). Many Ohioans who are addicted to cocaine want to stop using the drug but feel unable to quit on their own. Like other addictions, cocaine addiction requires professional treatment. 

4. Methamphetamine

In recent years, the stimulant drug methamphetamine (or “meth”) has become increasingly deadly for Ohio residents. In 2021, the drug was involved in 25% of the state’s overdose fatalities, compared to only 3.1% in 2015.

Meth is a powder that’s made from a variety of dangerous chemicals, including anhydrous ammonia, sulfuric acid, and ether. The powder can be snorted, injected, or eaten. Some people also use the powder to make pills or smokeable rocks called crystal meth. 

Risks Of Meth Abuse

Because it’s so potent, meth has been linked to many serious health problems, including:

  • permanent heart or brain damage
  • lung, liver, or kidney damage
  • high blood pressure, which increases your risk of heart attack and stroke

Also, meth poses a high risk of addiction and life-threatening overdose. Common signs of a meth overdose include:

  • irritability
  • paranoia
  • trouble breathing
  • irregular heartbeat
  • stomach pain
  • chest pain
  • seizures

3. Alcohol

Every year, about 3,300 Ohioans die due to excessive drinking. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines excessive drinking as:

  • having more than 3 drinks per day or more than 7 drinks per week for women
  • having more than 4 drinks per day or more than 14 drinks per week for men

Many alcohol-related deaths are linked to drunk driving crashes. In the state of Ohio, alcohol-related crashes account for about 40% of deaths annually. 

Risks Of Alcohol Abuse

Other life-threatening risks of alcohol abuse include:

  • liver disease
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • certain cancers, including breast cancer, liver cancer, and oral cancer
  • physical injuries, including drownings, burns, and falls
  • violence, including suicide and homicide 
  • alcohol poisoning (also called alcohol overdose)
  • alcohol addiction (also called alcohol use disorder)

To avoid these risks, the NIAAA recommends that women have no more than one drink per day and men have no more than two drinks per day. 

2. Heroin

Between 2007 and 2016, Ohio saw a 1000% increase in opioid-related deaths. One of the most deadly opioids is heroin

Made from an opiate (natural opioid) called morphine, heroin is a white or brown powder or a black goo. It’s typically injected, snorted, or smoked. Like other opioids, it acts as a painkiller. It also causes relaxation and euphoria. 

According to law enforcement agencies, many Ohioans turn to heroin after developing prescription opioid addictions. Once their prescriptions run out, they often find that heroin is much cheaper than other opioids sold on the illegal drug market. 

Risks Of Heroin Abuse

Heroin is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. That means it has no currently accepted medical use and poses an extremely high risk of abuse and addiction. The most common risks of heroin abuse include:

  • depression
  • lung complications from smoking the drug
  • damaged nasal tissues from snorting the drug
  • collapsed veins from injecting the drug
  • overdose, which causes symptoms such as trouble breathing, bluish skin, and loss of consciousness

1. Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a prescription drug used to treat severe cancer pain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s up to 50 times more powerful than heroin. 

Risks Of Fentanyl-Laced Drugs

Some drug trafficking organizations illegally manufacture fentanyl and secretly add it to other illicit drugs. 

Because fentanyl is so potent, it has contributed to numerous Ohio drug overdose deaths. In 2020, fentanyl was involved in 83% of the state’s heroin-related overdose deaths, 80% of its cocaine-related overdose deaths, and 79% of its meth-related overdose deaths. 

Common symptoms of a fentanyl overdose include:

  • drowsiness
  • nausea
  • confusion
  • bluish skin
  • loss of consciousness.

If you or someone you love struggles with drug use, please contact Ohio Recovery Center. Our substance abuse treatment programs offer medical detox, mental health counseling, and many other forms of inpatient, evidence-based care.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Fentanyl Facts
  2. Harm Reduction Ohio - It’s official: Ohio suffers record level of overdose death in 2021
  3. Harm Reduction Ohio - Meth overdose deaths soar in Ohio…and not much is being done about it
  4. Ohio Department of Health - Drug Overdose
  5. Ohio Department of Health - Preliminary* Data Summary: Ohio Unintentional Drug Overdose Death
  6. Ohio Department of Transportation - Alcohol Data Fact Sheet

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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