HAMILTON, Ohio -- Could the Tri-State be turning a corner on the opioid epidemic?
Officials in Butler County are hoping that's the case, They said overdose deaths could be down nearly 25 percent compared to 2017, based on projects from numbers running through September.
"In 2017, it was the worst year on record for the Butler County Coroner's Office," Coroner Administrator Martin Schneider said.
There were 232 overdose deaths in Butler County this year, according to Schneider. This year, there were 145 through the end of September and he estimated the county is on pace for about 180 by the end of the year.
Even though the numbers are down, Schneider said they're not low enough.
"Drug overdose deaths are still the number one cause in our office," he said.
Most of those deaths are related to fentanyl use, according to Schneider. He said most of that fentanyl is coming to Butler County from China.
On Monday, Middletown police reported dramatic decreases in crime and overdoses. They said they believe the lower numbers are, in part, related to more local and federal collaboration with the FBI and DEA.
Social services have also stepped up efforts, according to Dr. Scott Rasmus, the executive director of the Butler County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery Services Board.
"We've expanded treatment programming, expanded residential beds, medication-assisted treatment programming, programming at the Butler County Jail has expanded," he said.
It will take some time to get the final numbers from 2018, but officials are hoping the trend will continue.