DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Preliminary data shows Montgomery County started off 2022 with 12 fewer accidental overdose deaths compared to January 2021.

“We always like to see the overdose numbers going down, it’s always an encouraging, positive sign. But we’re always cautious,” Tina Rezash Rogal, director of strategic initiatives and communications for Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services (ADAMHS), said.

Taking a look at a larger time period, though: from August 2020 to January 2021, compared to August 2021 to January 2022, the data stayed steady. The lack of a major increase in overdose death numbers is reassuring to local addiction and recovery services, but their guard is still up. Rogal attributed part of the reason for these numbers to the loosening of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

“People are out and about more, they’re with family more, they’re with friends more. If the worst should happen and overdose should happen, we’re hopeful that at least someone is there now to provide the help to save that person’s life,” Rogal said.

Casey Smith is the project manager for the Montgomery County Community Overdose Action Team. She noted the work providers are able to achieve as less people are isolated during the pandemic.

“Thanks to the work of our recovery and treatment providers in the community and those peer supporters providing that outreach on a day-to-day basis, their ability to get back to service provision in a way in which they were able to provide pre-pandemic is absolutely helping,” Smith said.

Recovery and treatment providers like CleanSlate, an outpatient addiction treatment center with several offices in the Dayton area. Dr. Robyn Chatman is the Area Medical Director for CleanSlate. She said they have seen more people seeking treatment throughout 2021 and the beginning of 2022, and they are aggressive when it comes to getting people into treatment quickly.

“We work very hard to try to get folks in within 48 hours. We have extended our hours so we are open until 8 p.m. at least one night a week. We have extended our access via telemedicine. We have eight offices across the state and even if in one location all of the spots are taken, we will still see that patient and move other patients around so that new patient will be seen by a provider that is onsite,” Chatman explained.

Chatman said education is a big part of helping people get the help they need.

“It’s a journey, it’s not a race, it’s not a destination. We stand ready to walk with anybody who is ready to start. We take our jobs very seriously and we would be thrilled to help anybody who is ready to start that journey,” Chatman said.

If you or someone you know needs help or resources, call the Montgomery County Crisis Now Hotline at 833-580-CALL (2255). People can also download the Local Help Now app to locate free mental health services.

To learn more about CleanSlate, click here or call 833-505-HOPE.