Ohio’s Montgomery county has been named the ‘Overdose Capital of America’, with reports of 365 opioid overdose deaths in just the last 6 months.
In 2016, a total of 371 opioid related deaths were recorded, and that number has doubled in just a year.
Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer told NBC News that county authorities anticipate as many as 800 deaths by the end of the year. Plummer reported that it has gotten so bad that his team responds to an opioid-related call at least several times a day, and his officers are forced to carry two doses of Narcan, a nasal spray version of naloxone, a prescription drug that can reverse the effects of an opiod overdose.
The Daily Mail reports:
The 2010 census puts the county’s population at just over 535,000 people.
Montgomery County sheriff’s deputies are said to respond to several overdose calls a day and deputies carry two doses of Narcan, a nasal spray version of naloxone, a prescription drug that can reverse the effects of an opiod overdose.
However, deputies say that being armed with those two doses of Narcan isn’t always enough — one deputy told NBC News that 20 doses were needed to treat a recent overdose victim and noted that even with the emergency treatment, the victims often die anyway.
Plummer told Fox News that ‘the problem is getting worse every day’ and that the county doesn’t have enough police resources to fight the epidemic. ‘We work very hard, it’s changed our jobs,’ he said.
In addition to arresting drug dealers, the sheriff’s deputies have been known to drive opioid-addicted people to treatment centers, try to enlist family members to help their addicted relatives and raise awareness about the dangers of opioid use.
Montgomery County coroner Kent Harshbarger told NBC News he estimates that anywhere from 60 to 70 percent of the bodies that come through his office are overdose victims.
By the end of the year, he and his staff are likely to process some 2,000 overdose victims’ bodies.
No surprise then that the county’s morgue cooler is full of overdose victims and that, during autopsies, the coroner’s office tests for the presence of more than two dozen types of the synthetic opioid, fentanyl.
Because his office is responsible for processing one-fifth of the cases in Ohio, Hashbarger estimates that The Buckeye State alone will clock 10,000 overdose deaths by the end of this year — more than all of the opioid overdose-related deaths recorded in all of America in 1990.
Harshbarger told NBC News that the sheer number of opioid overdose-related deaths in Montgomery County ‘is no different than some kind of mass-casualty event in any other form,’ labeling it a ‘medical event.’
‘It needs to be recognized that way to bring some federal assets to help us,’ he added.
Fentanyl, which is traditionally used medically in palliative care and as a potent painkiller, has seen an increase in recreational use in recent years.
The drug has been overrunning cities throughout America, including Dayton, Ohio — the county seat of Montgomery County — due largely to trafficking by Mexican cartels.
Opioid overdoses now result in more deaths in Americans under the age of 50 than than car crashes, gun deaths and the AIDS virus claimed in their peak years, says NBC News.
Based on preliminary data, The New York Times estimates that the number of drug overdose fatalities in the US for 2016 is likely to be greater than 59,000 and will represent the greatest annual change recorded to date.
The Times anticipates that last year’s opioid-related deaths will be 19 percent higher than the 52,404 deaths officially recorded in 2015.
Early data indicated notable increases in drug-related overdose deaths in Maryland, Florida, Pennsylvania and Maine in particular, while Ohio can expect to see about a 25 percent increase in drug deaths in 2016.