Ohio county seeks federal help to expand drug abuse battle

CLEVELAND (AP) — Ohio’s largest county is asking the federal government to waive rules that would make more publicly funded beds available for long-term drug treatment as it battles a growing epidemic of heroin and fentanyl abuse that has killed 200 people so far this year.

The Cuyahoga County executive on Thursday released a letter sent to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asking the agency to waive rules that would help the county expand the number of beds in residential drug treatment facilities.

Officials have predicted that the number of overdoses deaths attributed to heroin, fentanyl or a combination of the two drug this year could double 2015’s total of 228.

Cuyahoga County had 45 fatal heroin-fentanyl overdoses in May and 50 in in March.

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