DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN)– Community groups and health leaders say they’re worried about a surge in drug overdose-deaths as we head into the summer months. Last year, Dayton experienced a significant spike in overdose deaths as the pandemic hit. Health officials say overdose deaths in Montgomery County are on the rise and public health believes if hospitalizations and COVID-19 cases slow down, so will deadly overdoses.
“The pandemic is really one of the fueling factors to the increase in overdoses and the increase of overdose deaths so as the pandemic subsides, we hope overdose deaths will also subside,” said PIO PHDMC Dan Suffoletto.
Public Health officials say they’re not sure if there will be a similar OD spike this year like there was during the pandemic in 2020. However, Dayton’s Families of Addicts Organization says it could happen and they consider the opioid crisis as a second pandemic.
“This is a pandemic as well, when we’re losing that many people in our area and it’s not just here, the state was at the highest it’s ever been,” said Executive Director FOA Anita Kitchen.
This year alone in Montgomery County, there were only 40 more COVID-deaths than overdose deaths. And, between 2019 and 2020, the state experienced a 29-percent increase in overdose-related deaths. The CDC reports a national increase of 42-percent. Public Health says isolation most likely played a key role in overdose death spikes last year.
“Someone who is very vulnerable and seeking help from addiction and overdoses, they potentially got disrupted from services and help they need,” said Suffoletto. “Not only were they disconnected from friends and family that are their support system but also actual services provided in the community.”
Some groups believe vaccines will play a huge role in the current opioid epidemic.
“We haven’t hit herd-immunity yet so people aren’t really sure of what they can do or should do,” said Kitchen.
Kitchen mentioned in November 2020, Montgomery County had 298 opioid deaths in contrast to the 256 COVID-19 deaths the same month. She says virtual meetings did giving families across the country an opportunity to join the discussion, but posed challenges for those who need services the most.
“The chance of overdosing skyrockets a week after the person detoxes and switches to other services,” said Kitchen. “The pause in services and virtual changes was a real problem for a bit and still is.”
Dayton’s Families of Addicts Organization has a new emergency number that will connect -people with a family that’s faced similar circumstances. For help, their contact is 844-844-2362, or click here.