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7 powerful consequences of the opioid epidemic that help explain its devastation in Ohio

Published: Friday, October 27, 2017 @ 2:29 PM
By: Staff Report

President Donald Trump on Thursday announced that he would roll back regulations to allow state governments looking to access Medicaid funding for drug treatment centers with more than 16 beds.

This news organization has covered all sides of the opioid and overdose spike, from impact on families to effect on public services.

Here are seven of the most powerful consequences of overdoses on southwest Ohio.

From the middle of the street to high traffic restaurants, overdoses are happening in some unusual places.

Emergency crews say a Middletown man who overdosed is lucky to be alive after he fell onto nearby railroad tracks.

Dayton police were called to the Arby’s parking lot on Salem Avenue, where a 59-year-old man was overcome by a suspected opioid overdose.Springfield police patrolling on West North Street shortly before midnight allegedly saw Dalton L. Smith, 24, stagger and fall to his knees in the median between West Columbia and West North streets, according to court records. Two children, ages 3 and 5, were standing nearby, police say.

A co-pastor with Sons of Light Ministries said he's glad the man who overdosed on heroin did so in a bathroom at the Dayton church, otherwise help could have come too late.

-- From Another sign of the opioid epidemic: The unusual overdose locations, July 3

The deaths of a Centerville pilot and his wife gained national attention, in part because they were discovered by their four children.

Centerville Police Department released two 9-1-1 calls made by two children in the home where Brian and Courtney Halye were found dead Thursday morning. A 13-year-old boy told the dispatcher, "my two parents, I just woke up, and my parents are on the floor. My sister said they are not waking up." 

-- From Overdoses likely cause of death of Centerville couple, March 16

Continually frustrated by the overdoses and the cost, some have called for significant changes. Social media reacted strongly when Middletown City Council member Dan Picard asked if it was possible for EMS to not respond to overdose calls.

Noting people with cancer don’t get free chemotherapy from medics nor do people having heart attacks get a free heart bypass in an EMS run, Picard asked if there was a law that requires the city to respond to overdose calls.

-- From Middletown council member: Can we stop responding to overdoses?, June 22

Because of how powerful heroin, fentanyl and other drugs are, even incidental contact by those trying to help has led to overdoses.

The incident highlights the chilling danger to police and the public from an extremely powerful opioid that, at its most potent, just a few granules can kill.  

Fentanyl is so rampant in Ohio, it raises concern that people other than law officers are also at risk of accidental contact with deadly drug residue in places like public restrooms where addicts commonly use drugs, in hospitals where users are treated, and in the homes of drug users.

-- From Ohio cop overdoses after drug stop. Are you in danger of accidental fentanyl exposure?, May 15

The fentanyl epidemic that has clogged the streets, filled the Montgomery County morgue and launched hundreds of police investigations has led to more federal prosecutions as law enforcement attempts to disrupt the flow of drugs into the area by targeting dealers.

Fentanyl has become such a presence on some streets that police caught an alleged dealer when he flagged down a plain clothes officers’ car.  

“You make room for these cases. You just do,” Brent Tabacchi, assistant U.S. attorney, said of the crush of new cases. “That has meant longer hours for a lot of people here in the office. It means a lot of times we’ve been calling our magistrate judges at 10:30 or 11 o’clock at night to get warrants.  

“We’ve always had some element of that, but when a week or two goes by and we’re not in here at night doing something, it almost seems unusual now.”

-- From ‘That’s what’s killing people’ — Fentanyl clogs morgue, and now courts, June 30

A summer ridealong with Middletown paramedics this summer produced a powerful photo story by this news organization about what emergency crews face in the field.

Emergency personnel found a man unconscious, lying between two vehicles across the alley. Paramedics first tried to start an IV, the fastest and most effective way to push Narcan into the man’s system, and when that failed, Narcan was administered through the man’s nose. Then a second IV was started. The entire time, paramedics bagged the gentleman until his oxygen level returned to normal.

-- From PHOTOS: Follow Middletown paramedics as they respond to an overdose call, June 30

Opioid addiction, abuse and overdose deaths cost Ohio from $6.6 billion to $8.8 billion, according to a new report from the C. William Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy at Ohio State University.

The problem is particularly acute in rural areas, where too many have little access to medication-assisted treatment. And the report turns a spotlight to the Dayton area and beyond, saying: “This is a particularly critical issue in the rural areas of Southwest Ohio, where opioid abuse rates are high but local access to treatment is limited.”

-- From Opioids cost Ohio $8.8 billion, Oct. 26