DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – More needs to be done to combat the ongoing opioid epidemic, according to Congressman Mike Turner.
He said the number of deaths show Montgomery County is “in a crisis” and officials need to respond accordingly.
It’s already been reported, the county is on track to set another record number when it comes to overdose deaths.
As of June 30th, there have been 388 drug overdose deaths, and it’s projected that number could swell to more than 800 by the end of the year – more than doubling last year’s year-end total.
“Our community is certainly working in a collaborative and coordinated way but it’s certainly not enough,” Turner said.
“We are facing a crisis of proportion that we have not seen in this community.”
As the county’s jails and morgues continue to fill up, Turner and other community leaders met Monday for a round table discussion to assessed how far they’ve come in fighting the problem and what more needs to be done.
Assistant Chief Michael Caudill of the Dayton Fire Department said: “We are basically being overwhelmed at this time. Just the sheer volume is unprecedented.”
Officials said street opiates are becoming more deadly as dealers combine different chemicals to make more potent products. And it’s taking more and more Narcan to reverse the effects.
Senior Paramedic David Gerstner of the Dayton Fire Department said just one dose could prove fatal.
“if you’re a parent you need to be terrified right now,” he said.
“You need to get the message to all of your kids that they cannot take the chance to take even one try.”
Major talking points at this morning’s round table discussion: how to remove illegal drugs off the street, how to prevent people from getting addicted, and how to get those struggling with addiction into available treatment facilities.
“We’ve got to get people in treatment,” said Jan Lepore-Jentleson – the executive director of East End Community Services.
“Take a loved one into treatment. Do whatever you can. But it’s so critically important that we stop the death rate.”
Montgomery County Health Commissioner Jeff Cooper stressed addiction is a brain disorder and should receive the same level of compassion afforded to those struggling with other illnesses.
“We have compassion for individuals who may be obese, who may have diabetes, who may continue to use tobacco after multiple attempts at cessation,” he said.
“We need that same level of empathy and compassion or individuals who are suffering from mental illness and drug addiction.”
Turner said teams on the ground are doing an excellent job in the face of such an enormous problem but more can be done.
“Clearly the numbers show, we’re in a crisis. We need to be responding as if it’s a crisis and I think we could do better in that regard,” he said.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, officials named the Samaritan Crisis Care as one avenue to get help.
They can be reached via phone at (937) 224-4646. They also have a website.