There was a recent spike in overdoses at emergency rooms in Montgomery County and other southwest Ohio communities, with local cases ranging from a 14 year old to an 85 year old.
The cases were part of a broader surge in drug overdoses in late July. In addition to Montgomery County, Butler, Hamilton, Lake, Lorain, Lucas and Stark counties have seen an increase in the number of drug overdoses since July 26, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
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At the same time, accidental overdose deaths are down compared to last year. Preliminary numbers show there were 151 accidental overdose deaths through the end of July, compared to 414 for the same time period in 2017.
Health workers have previously said the declining drug deaths reflect that community efforts to reduce harm and prevent and treat addiction are starting to take hold. But officials have also cautioned that work remains to put the opioid epidemic in full retreat.
There were 63 drug-related emergency room visits, including 39 accidental overdoses, between July 26 and July 30 in Montgomery County, according to the Community Overdose Action Team.
Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) did not have information on whether any of the 39 overdoses were also overdose deaths.
The Montgomery County coroner has also seen an increase in methamphetamine use during autopsies.
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Ann Stevens, spokeswoman for ADAMHS, warned people to be wary of what they are taking, adding any illegal drug could contain fentanyl, the highly-potent opioid that raises the risk of overdoses and deaths.
Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin.
“It’s a game of Russian roulette. You have no way to control what is in that drug,” Stevens said.
She said people who use drugs should not use drugs alone, should not share needles and should have Narcan available. Samaritan Crisis Care can be reached at 224-4646 for crisis, treatment and referral.
Stevens said meth has evolved from something cooked in a garage to something trafficked by cartels, which often lace the drugs with fentanyl.
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“They will often time put in some fentanyl to make the high a little better. So that’s what lands people in the emergency room,” she said.
The 39 people who overdosed ranged in age from 14 years old to 85 years old. Thirteen are women and 26 are men. Ten of the descriptions of the ER visits referenced the person using heroin and 29 did not name a specific drug.
It can take more than a month for a final toxicology report to be done, which is what tells what substances were used before the overdose.
Project Dawn Montgomery County has free weekly naloxone overdose education and distribution every Wednesday at noon at 601 Edwin C. Moses Blvd., at the CrisisCare entrance. Attendees should arrive 15 minutes early to register.
Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, can reverse opioid overdoses and prevent drug deaths.
Project Dawn will schedule training during evenings and weekends at the request of businesses and other groups.
There are also eight hour “mental health first aid” courses that teach how to start a conversation with someone who might be having a mental health and substance use crisis. To attend contact Jennifer Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-443-0416.