Special Report: Hooked on Heroin

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DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The opiate epidemic is taking over communities across the Miami Valley.

David Bohardt, Executive Director of St. Vincent de Paul said, “Even though you know what the issue is… Even though you know how it can be treated… Even though you know how people can be helped… The problem is overwhelming us.”

But which community is hit the hardest?

2 NEWS requested 911 calls from the last 6 months related to overdoses. We sorted through the calls and went to the neighborhoods seeing the most.

It is a recurring address for dispatchers and a familiar home to some who don’t have one.

Bohardt said told 2 NEWS he thinks St. Vicent de Paul has saved between 50 and 80 lives.

It’s St. Vincent de Paul’s Homeless Shelter for Men and since January 2017, medics responded here 30 times for overdoses related to opiates.

In one call to 911, you could hear the caller say, “I have staff attending to this client, but he’s cold and unresponsive.”

“It simply mirrors what’s going on in the rest of our community,” Bohardt said. He continued, saying opioid overdoses are rampant here and it’s no different across Montgomery County.

Source: Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office

In 2016, the county reported more than 300 overdose deaths.

In 2017, the county has already surpassed those numbers and is on track to record more than 800 overdose deaths.

“We do a lot of things around the shelter with gloves and not being so careless as to what we might find in a bag,” said Brian Fraley Wilson who is in his eighth year managing the shelter.

Steps from his office is a familiar sound. Each day, hundreds of men are checked with a metal detector and searched for drugs.

Wilson said, “It may not be an overdose. It may be someone carrying paraphernalia, but it is something we always have to be on the lookout for.”

Because of the high number of overdoses here, officials have trained all employees on how to use Narcan and they have it ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Wilson demonstrated saying, “We take them out of the package, insert them [into] the nostril and press on the plunger.”

St. Vincent de Paul isn’t the only concentrated area seeing an influx in overdoses.

2 NEWS sorted through 911 calls and went knocking in one Dayton neighborhood where overdose calls are customary.

Morgan Avenue, a street stretching two blocks, recorded 21 overdose calls in six months. In the hour we spent there two overdose calls came in.

Residents of the area call it “Morgue Avenue.”

“Right. Yep. That’s what they call it now,” said Daniel Banks who lives on Morgan Avenue.

2 NEWS tried to talk to other residents but Banks was the only one brave enough to talk to us on camera.

The other residents tell us it’s their unfortunate reality that they’re too afraid to talk about it, worried about the repercussions that may come from speaking out.

Banks said, “You get to see the ambulances almost every day. You get to see the fire trucks almost every day. You get to see the police almost every day.”

It’s a problem consuming the minds of law enforcement and their resources.

Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer said, “$24 of heroin could cost us about 6 to 8 times of Narcan, so $400 to save you.”

Plummer says the problem is especially difficult to solve because it’s unlike anything law enforcement has experienced before.

He says it comes down to three initiatives, reducing the supply, treating the addicts and educating the young.

Others, like Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, are going after the drug companies blaming them for the deadly crisis.

Whaley said, “They started the market, frankly, knowing that it was addictive and didn’t do anything about it.”

On behalf of the city, the Mayor is suing several drug companies, demanding they pay for the crisis that has drained public funds and killed thousands of people.

Critics argue it’s an issue that will take too long to solve in a courtroom and say that effort is better spent on educating and treating recovery addicts like Cheryl.

Cheryl, who did not want to be further identified, said, “If we just had more facilities that would take patients right away then I believe it would help the success. And more neighbors should be involved and not afraid and not living in fear of calling the Police.”

Cheryl’s story is one of hope, hard work and belief in one self’s that success is possible against all odds.

David Bohardt said, “It has nothing to do with income. It has nothing to do with race. It has nothing to do with gender. It has to do with a very powerful addiction.”


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