Four Kilos of Meth

Drugs and alcohol played a role in the deaths of 144 people in Franklin County in 2018, but not all were overdoses.

According to the 2018 annual report compiled by Franklin County medical examiner Kathleen Hargrave, methamphetamine was the single largest drug contributing to deaths last year.

In all, 39 deaths in Franklin County were related to methamphetamine use, which is up from 23 total cases in 2017.

Of those deaths, 22 were classified as accidental and seven more involved a motor vehicle.

Four of the county’s six homicides had a link to methamphetamine as did five suicides, according to the report.

The victims of the meth-related deaths include 28 males and 11 females, ranging in age from 1 to 69.

Despite strong efforts to eradicate the easily manufactured drug in the early to mid 2000s in Franklin County, there has been a resurgence in meth use and deaths from its use since 2014.

In the past decade, there has been 108 methamphetamine-related deaths in Franklin County, 95 of those deaths have been in the five years between 2014 and 2018.

Since 2009, methamphetamine has played a role in 55 accidental deaths — 18 deaths involved a motor vehicle, 17 suicides and 10 homicides.


Opiates also have killed 108 people in the county since 2009 with a marked increase in deaths in the past three years. The medical examiner’s report lumps several types of opiates together in the 2018 death report that shows 49 deaths were related to about 15 various drugs.

Like the other illicit substances, 32 of the opiate-related deaths were classified as accidental and five others involved a motor vehicle accident.

Opiate use led to seven suicides and was a factor in half of the county’s homicides for 2018.

The opiate-related deaths range in age from 16 to 89 — there were 33 males and 16 females.


Cannabinoid was the second highest contributor to deaths in the county in 2018, according to the report.

The report shows 30 deaths involved cannabinoid use and resulted in 11 accidental deaths, nine involved motor vehicles, three homicides and six suicides.

In 2018, cannabis-related deaths nearly doubled from the 2017 total of 17.

Going back to 2009, there have been 135 deaths in Franklin County related to cannabinoid use. The majority have been accidents, 84, followed by suicides, 32. 

The age range was 1 to 69 with 25 males and five female deaths.


Although included in the 49 overall opiate-related deaths, the medical examiner’s report has specific statistics for fentanyl, oxycodone and heroin.  

Fentanyl-related deaths have been on a steady increase in Franklin County since 2015. That year only six deaths related to the drug were reported. Contrast that with the 29 reported in 2018.

According to the report, 25 of the 29 deaths were classified as accidental, three were suicides and one involved a motor vehicle.

The victims were 19 males and 10 females ranging in age from 16 to 69.

Overall, there have been 94 fentanyl-related deaths in the county since 2009.


Twenty-six people who lost their lives in Franklin County last year had a measurable level of alcohol in their systems.

The medical examiner’s report goes more indepth to show that in 20 of those cases alcohol directly contributed to the person’s death.

The report lists 15 of the deaths were from an accident and 10 of those involved a motor vehicle.

The next largest cluster was seven suicides related to alcohol use, two homicides, one death from natural causes and one cause of death classified as undetermined.

Six of the suicides were self-inflicted gunshot wounds and one was a hanging. One homicide was a gunshot wound and the other was a stabbing.

One other notable death related to alcohol use was a submersion in water.

There have been 248 alcohol-related deaths in Franklin County in the past decade and in 157 of those cases it was a main contributor.


Oxycodone-related deaths doubled last year and 2018 marked the highest number in the past decade.

There were 16 deaths related to oxycodone in 2018 and the victims ranged in age from 20 to 69.

According to the report, nine of the deaths were ruled accidental, two involved motor vehicles, three were suicides, one was natural causes and one was undetermined. The victims included 12 males and four females.

Of the accidental deaths, one was a fall and another was due to submersion in water. The three suicides included a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The undetermined death was related to someone falling.

In the last 10 years, there have been 99 oxycodone-related deaths in Franklin County.

Fifty-six were classified as accidental, 16 were suicides, nine were natural and eight involved a motor vehicle.


There were eight deaths in Franklin County last year related to heroin and the medical examiner classified all of them as accidental.

In one case, alcohol also was involved.

The report shows an equal split of four males and four females who died due to the use of the drug and their ages ranged from 20 to 39.

In the past 10 years, 82 people have died in heroin-related deaths in the county with 2016 posting the highest total of 14. The lowest number of deaths reported was 2011 with five cases.

Of the decade total, 75 were classified as accidental, three involved motor vehicles, there was one suicide and three deaths were undetermined.


Rounding out the drug- and alcohol-related deaths in Franklin County for 2018 was cocaine, which saw the number of cases triple over the previous year.

For 2018, six people died from causes associated with drug use. Five of the deaths were male and one female ranging in age from 16 to 69.

Three of the deaths involved a motor vehicle and two of those a collision with a fixed object. The one suicide related to cocaine use resulted from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

There have only been 17 cocaine-related deaths in Franklin County since 2009 with 2018 having the most with six.

All other years have posted only one or two deaths and in 2011 there were zero.