Ohio Officials Plead For Addicts To Stock Up On Narcan After Overdose Wave

By Dorri Olds 07/14/16

Officials are reinforcing the importance of Narcan after 11 people overdosed on a batch of heroin mixed with fentanyl this past weekend.

Ohio Officials Plead For Addicts To Stock Up On Narcan After Overdose Wave
Photo YouTube/Boston Herald

Columbus, Ohio officials responded to 11 weekend overdoses from fentanyl-laced heroin, with a plea for addicts to get Narcan.

Zach Klein, president of the City Council in Columbus, and Columbus Health Commissioner Dr. Teresa Long joined members of the city police and fire divisions for a press conference on Tuesday to discuss what they are calling a “public health epidemic.”

Klein went on to state, “We’re here because we have a serious problem in our community that was exacerbated over the weekend and I wanted to let the community know what we’re doing as a city, the Department of Health, the Department of Public Safety, to proactively address the opiate heroin problem in our community.”

Klein referred to the local addicts as “our sons and daughters, the people we go to church with. This is real, and it takes a community response to deal with this.”

This past weekend, 11 people overdosed in Columbus on a suspected batch of heroin mixed with fentanyl. Two died and the rest were treated. On Monday, Rayshon Alexander, 36, was arrested and charged with a felony for allegedly providing the dangerous drug mixture.

After the introduction and a few words, Klein turned the mic over to Dr. Long, who said, “We’re all here because we’re all about saving lives in Columbus. Heroin addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease that can cause devastation in a community that’s already vulnerable. As your Health Commissioner, I am urging anyone with a loved one addicted to heroin, or if you are addicted to heroin to purchase naloxone, a drug commonly known as Narcan. Naloxone reverses the effects of an overdose.”

She wanted everyone to know that Narcan is available without a prescription in pharmacies throughout the area, and that most health insurance plans, including Medicaid, will cover it.

A nonprofit medical center called Equitas Health will be giving out a limited number of naloxone kits that each contain two doses of naloxone, to those who don’t have insurance and can’t afford to buy it.

“When you use an opioid or heroin, have someone else present,” said Dr. Long, “When you use with someone else present, take turns so someone is conscious to help. We urge everyone to seek treatment for their addiction, but the most important thing is to be sure that you have the ability to provide Narcan.”

“We have to have follow-up services for addicts so that we can get them the treatment they need and give them a second chance at life,” Klein said. He also emphasized how aggressive the city is prepared to be in order to save lives. “I have a daughter that’s four and a son that’s two and this worries me," he added. "This worries me for every kid. No one grows up to think that they want to be addicted to drugs. We need to be here as a community to make a difference and that’s what we’re doing.”

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

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.