Cincinnati Heroin Overdoses Hit 60 This Week—and Counting

By Dorri Olds 08/26/16

This is the second wave of overdoses to hit Ohio since last month. 

Cincinnati Heroin Overdoses Hit 60 This Week—and Counting

A wave of overdoses hit Cincinnati, Ohio this week, resulting in three confirmed drug overdose deaths, FOX19 reports.

The overdose numbers began pouring in on Saturday, August 21. By Thursday, more than 60 heroin overdoses were reported throughout Cincinnati and other parts of Hamilton County.

"Sometimes it’s the same patients that we might have seen last week. Sometimes it’s the same patient you saw in the morning,” Lt. Mark Schwetschenau of the Cincinnati Fire Department told FOX19. spoke with Dr. Jeremy Engel of St. Elizabeth Physicians about the crisis. “We’re using horses against tanks. Every individual at risk for impulsive use of heroin should have case management and be stabilized on medication—Vivitrol, Suboxone or methadone," said Engel. "As they are identified, they should be immediately connected to this treatment.”

Cops are theorizing that the heroin is coming from the same bad batch and is being spread by local dealers. Authorities suspect the heroin could be contaminated with fentanyl, carfentanil, or even rat poison. With all of the mixed ingredients, Narcan is not working the same way as it would with untainted heroin.

“We have been receiving reports from some of our colleagues in the healthcare systems that people have had to be put on IVs of naloxone just to keep them and bring them back,” Hamilton County assistant health commissioner Craig Davidson told WCPO. “The carfentanil is that strong that, again, one, two or (even) three doses sometimes is not enough.”

Newton Police Chief Tom Synan, the head of the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition Task Force, is focused on finding the source of the tainted heroin. “I've got to say to whoever pushed this out on the street, this was the wrong thing to do, because you now have the full and undivided attention of the Hamilton County Coalition Task Force, which includes local, state and federal agencies, and I can tell you we'll all be working with the Cincinnati Police Department to see who pushed this out on the street."

Just last month, there was another mass overdose in Summit County, Ohio. Between July 5th and 6th, 19 overdoses and one overdose fatality were reported, leading Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan to declare a "public health crisis."

Update: As of Friday, August 26, the estimated number of overdoses in Cincinnati has risen to 78, which brings the total of estimated ER overdose cases to 174 for the week thus far.

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Dorri Olds is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Woman’s Day and several book anthologies. Find Dorri on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.