Summit County residents continued to overdose last week at the rate of about seven per day.

The latest numbers released by health officials Friday showed that 49 Summit County residents sought help in hospital emergency rooms after overdosing between Sept. 21-28.

Opioid addiction might seem like a recent phenomenon gripping the nation, but the U.S. has been here before.

President Theodore Roosevelt appointed the first U.S. opium commissioner in 1908 — Dr. Hamilton Wright from Cleveland.

The Washington Post on Friday published a story about America’s longstanding trouble with opioids — including opium and heroin — which has ebbed and flowed since the Civil War.

In 1911, Wright told the New York Times that the country’s prisons and hospitals were filled with opiate addicts.

“[I]t has robbed 10,000 businessmen of moral sense and made them beasts who prey upon their fellows,” Wright said. “[I]t has become one of the most fertile causes of unhappiness and sin in the United States.”

Both the early 20th and the 21st century epidemics began the same way — over-prescription of pain medication.

Opiates, however, are more powerful now, super-fueled by synthetics like fentanyl.

And in Summit County or anywhere else, users or dealers can order their drugs online, either having them shipped by mail to an address or arranging for a hand-to-hand trade-off in a fast-food parking lot, grocery or any place the public mingles.

Visit Ohio.com to read this week’s full Summit County report.