Heroin Overdose Rates Drop in Parts of Ohio

By Paul Gaita 06/24/15

Miami Valley officials are crediting the life-saving heroin antidote naloxone with the drop in overdoses.

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As news outlets continue to report a rise in the number of heroin-related overdoses and deaths across the United States, the Miami Valley region of southern Ohio is experiencing a drop in overdose admissions to area hospitals.

Two hospitals in Dayton, Miami Valley Hospital and Good Samaritan Hospital, have both seen fewer patients for heroin overdoses this year. Miami Valley is down from 161 in 2014 to 127 this year, while Good Samaritan is experiencing a 40% decline in admissions, from 67 in 2014 to 37 in 2015.

Dayton Fire Department lieutenant Jack Mix believes that the reduced numbers are due more to an increase in the availability of the drug naloxone, which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

“My guess is that Narcan has been made available to all kinds of people,” said Mix. “If you come into a hospital and somebody in your family has had a heroin overdose, you are most likely going to be leaving with a Narcan kit.”

Whether due to intervention with Narcan or through other means, the news offers encouragement to those in the recovery field. “The disease of addiction is one that most of us don’t understand, and so when we have an option to start new, that’s a beautiful thing,” said Deanna Murphy, executive director of Brigid’s Path, an inpatient medical care facility in Kettering, Ohio, for newborns and mothers affected by drugs.

“Being able to have something that gives us the option to make a new choice, that’s something most of us don’t get, and so availability of Narcan is really crucial in saving lives in our community.” Statistics for drug overdose death rates in the United States in 2014 show Ohio on the higher end of the spectrum, with 17.5 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.