Ohio Politician Proposes Three Strikes Rule For Overdose Victims

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Ohio Politician Proposes Three Strikes Rule For Overdose Victims

By Britni de la Cretaz 06/30/17

The Middletown councilman's proposal is not about fixing the drug epidemic; it's about saving the city money.

Image: 
a paramedic preparing a dose of Narcan.
Photo via YouTube

One Ohio councilman has come up with a controversial proposal to address the cost of the rising number of opioid overdoses in his city. 

In an attempt to save taxpayer dollars, Councilman David Picard has proposed a “Three Strikes and You’re Out” policy — first responders can provide Narcan to someone who is overdosing three times and, after that, the person cannot receive another dose. According to WHEC, Picard claims the same people keep overdosing at the expense of the city.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, Ohio’s death rate due to unintentional drug overdose increased 642% between 2000 and 2015, driven largely by opioid-related overdoses. But regarding his proposal, Picard told The Washington Post that it’s not an attempt to fix the addiction epidemic.

“It’s not a proposal to solve the drug problem,” Picard told the paper. “My proposal is in regard to the financial survivability of our city. If we’re spending $2 million this year and $4 million next year and $6 million after that, we’re in trouble. We’re going to have to start laying off. We're going to have to raise taxes.”

In Middletown, where Picard is located, paramedics have made 598 overdose runs in 2017, which is a 300% increase from this time last year. It’s estimated that each one of those trips costs $1,104. That cost doesn’t include hospital expenses or the cost of a police department response.

Picard told the Journal-News that someone who is addicted to drugs “obviously doesn’t care much about his life, but he’s expending a lot of resources, and we can’t afford it. … I want to send a message to the world that you don’t want to come to Middletown to overdose because someone might not come with Narcan and save your life.”

But opponents of this idea argue that just letting people who are suffering from a public health problem die is inhumane. Currently, the fire department says they are required by law to provide naloxone if they respond to an overdose.

“We are faced with stress on our services, particularly the EMS services where we can do six to eight opioid overdose runs a day,” Paul Lolli, fire chief of Middletown, told NBC4i.

Contact Councilman Picard by phone: 513-423-4063 or email: danp@cityofmiddletown.org.

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.

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