In the nationwide Heroin Epidemic that is claiming more lives than those killed by gun violence, there's an ongoing debate as to how to handle the crisis in the Ohio and tri-state region.
Many cities across Ohio are struggling to financially provide Narcan, the life saving medication used to counter opioid overdoses, to the public simply due to the intense amount of daily overdoses.
Recently in Middletown, Ohio, a Councilman suggested that the city stop responding to Emergency 911 distress calls in cases of an overdose, because it's not only bankrupting the city but taking away first responders from other victims.
In one city in particular, Dayton, Ohio, an east Dayton man has been revived by Nalaxone 20 separate times by police. However the Dayton Police Major still doesn’t agree with the Middletown Councilman who is suggesting law enforcement stop responding to opioid overdoses.
Major Johns of the Dayton Police Department doesn’t think Middletown City Council member Dan Picard was correct when Picard asked if it was possible for that city to not respond to such calls.
Picard said that an addict “obviously doesn’t care much about his life, but he’s expending a lot of resources, and we can’t afford it,” during a recent council meeting last week.
Middletown officials said they would spend $100,000 on Narcan after only budgeting $10,000 for 2017.
“I disagree with it,” Johns said of Picard’s suggestion. “I know Narcan isn’t the answer. But, as law enforcement, we took an oath to protect life and where do you stop?”
Major John's went on to say, “If I’m obese and I go have McDonald’s once a week and eat cheeseburgers, are you not going to do CPR on me because I have poor dietary habits? I don’t think he’s educated in regards to the issue.”
Dayton Police have a different approach, with one full time officer dedicated solely to visiting addicts who they've treated and making attempts for recovery procedures.
John's says there is one addict who has been revived by police on twenty separate occasions. He said he's personally visited with the man to try and save his life with recovery options.
When talking about the addict Major John's stated “He’ll say, “It was just an accident. I didn’t know what I was getting. I’ll go into treatment’ and then he never follows up,” Johns said, who said the man has a girlfriend and sisters who will call 911 each time. “If you think just not going is the answer, that’s not the answer.”
Dr. Scott Rasmus who is the Executive Director of Butler County Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Services, also disagreed with Picard recent comments.
“My thought is that if a life is at risk, why wouldn’t you do everything in your power to try to save that life?” Rasmus asked. “Obviously it’s a life and we need to support life, but we need to look at the alternatives.”
Statistics recorded within the region say that Heroin and Fentanyl have been responsible for 372 overdose deaths in Montgomery County through May 2017. That number already exceeded 2016’s total of 349. Major Johns said the region’s heroin problem has become a fentanyl based problem due to the increase in potency from the illicit suppliers.
“It’s stronger and people want it more,” Johns said. “But it’s so very lethal. But how it’s cut is so important so many folks are dying from it. It’s insane.”
The crime related to the Heroin epidemic is catastrophic as well. Not to mention the cost to the region which already has more citizens on welfare than paying taxes which makes affording the costs of emergency responses as well as increased jailing and treatment nearly impossible.