After a weekend full of opiate overdoses in Columbus, city officials encouraged drug addicts to obtain the widely-available antidote and seek treatment.
Mike Foley reports.
While the state is in the middle of a 15-county awareness campaign to promote the life-saving drug Naloxone or Narcan, the City of Columbus reinforced that message after a weekend that saw several Columbus residents treated for opiate overdoses. Columbus Health Commissioner Dr. Teresa Long.
“Anyone with a loved one addicted to heroin or if you are addicted to heroin, secure or purchase Naloxone, a drug commonly known as Narcan. Naloxone reverses the effects of an overdose and is available at pharmacies and many outlets throughout central Ohio without a prescription.”
During a press conference at City Hall, Long and Council President Zach Klein responded to questions about whether they are enabling addicts by focusing so much attention on the antidote.
“So we view the use of Naloxone as saving a life. We know that the evidence is there that once a life is saved, once there are opportunities made available, there is an increased likelihood of entry into successful treatment.“
“Then you start thinking about victims of human trafficking that are addicted to drugs because their pimps administer the drugs to them. They may have an overdose. They need help. And by having Narcan available and by promoting the availability of Narcan, we may be able to give them a second chance. There’s also an example of rescue personnel coming to save a 34-day-old baby’s life – a month old – because the mom was using heroin and it passed through the breast milk to the baby. But because this is available in the public, we were able to save a one-month-old baby’s life.”
Columbus police and fire personnel have the drug on hand for overdose runs. Police officials they’ve delivered a dozen doses over a two-week stretch with all 12 surviving, including the month old Klein referenced. Dublin City Schools recently announced a policy to stock and administer Naloxone in district buildings, and Klein says he hopes the Columbus district does the same. But Klein also says administering the antidote represents only part of the solution.
“We have to have follow-up services for people that are addicts and have drug problems so that we can give them the treatment they need. That’s why on the treatment side at City Council, I’m going to be partnering with a great community group called Alvis, to do a new rehabilitation center on Livingston Avenue – helping with $250,000 of capital funds to help them redo that facility so that there’s more treatment available for those that need it.”
Klein says the city’s response moving forward must be progressive and aggressive. He says police and fire crews are making five to six runs per day related to overdoses.