Another Spike In Local Drug Overdoses Reported
Columbus fire officials say 21 people were treated between 8 a.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. Thursday for opioid overdoses. That's on top of the nearly three-dozen cases reported between Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. Fire division paramedics administered naloxone to the victims. Columbus police continue searching for the distributors of the heroin mixed with another yet-to-be identified substance. The 21 cases were scattered throughout the city. No deaths were reported. Meanwhile, the Ohio Attorney General is urging communities to take advantage of programs available to help fight the state's opioid epidemic. Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles reports.
Attorney General Mike DeWine says the heroin unit in his office can help communities with equipment, staff and information to get bigger drug dealers off the street. But he says, so far, only a few have taken advantage of that service. DeWine says it’s also important for all communities to make sure they have plenty of Naloxone on hand. That’s the drug that revives someone when they are overdosing. And he says it’s important to remember that some opioids, like the powerful elephant tranquilizer carfentanil, are far stronger than the overdose remedy.
“The half-life of carfentanil might be up to seven hours. The half life of naloxone is about thirty to forty minutes. So what we are now seeing happen is that people are brought back to life, taken to a hospital, are advised to stick around, they feel ok so they walk out the door and two hours later, they are dead because it didn’t stay in their system long enough.”
DeWine says he’s heard some question why public money is being spent to buy naloxone for first responders in the first place. He defends it.
“I met with some young women a few months ago. One had been brought back to life twice. Another had been brought back to life three times. And they were sober and had been sober for three months. So we value life.”
DeWine says his office has worked with the manufacturer of naloxone to give rebates back to consumers who purchase it. But he says the only real way to solve the heroin crisis long-term is to educate kids, from a very young age, about the dangers of drug abuse. He’s hoping education efforts undertaken now will pay off with fewer drug abusers a decade from now.