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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Scioto County Needs Quick Response Teams To Fight Opioid Overdoses

An Ohioan dies every five hours from a drug overdose.

Unintentional drug overdoses caused 2,110 deaths of Ohio residents in 2013. Records show there were about 196 more deaths in 2013 compared to 2012, according to a report released by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH).

Opiates, which include heroin and prescription painkillers, were culpable in more than 70 percent of overdose deaths. Heroin-related deaths increased in 2013, significantly surpassing prescription opiates among unintentional overdose deaths. Heroin overdose deaths rose from 697 in 2012 to 983 in 2013.

("2013 Increase in Drug Overdose Deaths Underscores Importance of Current Life-Saving Initiatives Combatting Drug Abuse." Ohio Department of Health. April 30, 2015)

Deaths as a result of accidental opioid drug overdoses continue to rise as evidenced in totals from 2011 when total fatal overdoses reaching 1,765, a record high,

Scioto County's "Average Age-Adjusted Rate 2008-13" was 29.3 deaths per 100,000 people second only in Ohio to Brown County at 32.5 deaths per 100,000 people.

The actual numbers of deaths recorded as "unintentional drug overdoses" is shown here:

                2002  2003  2004  2005  2006  2007  2008  2009  2010  2011  2012  2013

  13     10       14      17       15      19      20      24      22     25      17      18

In response to the epidemic, Colerain Township Police and Fire departments are launching a new initiative to fight drugs addiction in their community. Organizers said police, paramedics and counselors will “proactively” address heroin and opioid overdose incidents in the township.

Officials said the departments’ Quick Response Team is partnering with the Cincinnati Addicted Services Council.

Team members said they will help get opiate victims treatment by implementing the following:

* A team of police, paramedic and counselors will respond as a Quick Response Team  * They will provide short and long-term support to victims and families
They will follow up with an overdose survivor, who will respond within three to five days after the initial intervention.
And, all officers will carry nasal spray Narcan to help save lives starting August 1, 2015.

Organizers said they want to increase engagement and treatment by becoming a resource for victims and families.

By implementing the changes, the departments said they hope to reduce overall deaths and repeated overdoses.

The team is also working to increase education for victims and families on available resources and support network for families and victims. Director of Public Safety Daniel Meloy said he wants to get the information pamphlets into the hands of all of Colertain Township’s citizens.

City officials said there have been 96 overdose cases since the beginning of the year.

Colerain’s Department of Public Safety said it is also working with the Hamilton County Public Heath Department, "WeTHRIVE" initiative, Carol Baden, founder of the Community Recovery Project, human resource experts from Clippard Instruments, a long time Township business, and the Northwest Local School District to address drug addiction in the community.

(Tony Mirones. "Colerain Township takes new tack in fight against heroin."
 Cincinnati 9 WCPO. July 15, 2015)

We need this kind of response team support in Scioto County. I urge all public officials to push for better proactive treatment to address heroin and opioid overdose cases here. It is essential to the welfare of all members of the county to implement changes that lower our drug overdose death rate and increase our concern for drug overdose victims. When we work together to fight abuse, we send a powerful message to all -- a commitment to actions that save lives of those in our communities.

I feel as if these response teams can be a very effective weapon in the fight against drug abuse. The multi-discipline teams can better handle all issues involved in addiction. Although such resources may cost taxpayers, the efforts will surely pay huge dividends in the long-term. At the moment, heroin arrests and typical responses to overdose victims will never solve the horrible health epidemic in Scioto County. We must commit to better care for those addicted to drugs.

Join me in urging our county to add essential services in the face of the wave of opiate abuse that threatens to destroy our normal way of life. Heroin dealers care nothing for our towns and villages. It is up to us, as a community, to end indifference and step up to help all of our citizens, not just the chosen ones we judge worthy of our attention. If "things" are to get better, then those "things" require our action and not just our regret.
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