DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The national spotlight is shining on the Miami Valley this week, but not for a good reason. Montgomery County is making national headlines for it’s surge in fentanyl and heroin overdose deaths.
The heroin epidemic is an on-going and complex issue that has plagued the City of Dayton and Dayton Police since 2012. Now, five years later it’s worse than ever and getting the attention of the entire nation.
Jordan: “Have you ever seen anything like this before?”
Chief Biehl: “There is nothing. There is nothing to compare this to epedemic to in my 40 years.”
An epidemic unlike anything law enforcement has seen before. Overdoses are now the leading killer in the United States and Montgomery County is considered America’s overdose capital.
“This is an unprecedented amount of deaths,” and this year is truly shocking, just shocking.”
In Montgomery County, the overdose death rate has been skyrocketing. In May, the county surpassed the total number of overdose deaths in 2016. In 2017, officials estimate the deaths will be more than double.
The data got the attention of NBC News–who sent their Jacob Soboroff to the Miami Valley for a special series One Nation, Overdosed. Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley recently filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of the city, suing several major drug companies blaming for the opioid crisis.
Jordan: “Do you feel any sort of responsibility?”
Mayor Whaley: “It’s something we work on every day. It’s something we work on every single day. We are very concerned right now if we do not have help with medicaid expansion and with affordable care those numbers will be even worse that what you’re talking about.”
“Our community along with the rest of the country has been slow to mobilize with this epidemic. If it was H1-N1, I think we would mobilize,” Chief Biehl said. “Much more quickly.”
Chief Biehl says having comprehensive treatment for addicts is just the beginning to untangling this mess.
“There needs to be an integrated system of care,” Chief Biehl said. “That is easily accessed which the community understands and I don’t believe we have had that locally, but there’s been a lot of work the last two years to get there.”