Overdose deaths in Montgomery County dropped by nearly half in 2018 compared to the previous year.

According to Dan Suffoletto of Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County, it’s the first year-to-year drop in the number of overdose deaths in the county since 2010.

According to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office, there were 566 accidental overdose deaths in 2017. A preliminary count for 2018 shows that number dropped to 294 accidental overdose deaths.

“I think the thing that’s making the biggest impact is the Community Overdose Action Team and everyone working together,” Suffoletto said. “We have over 200 people. We have over 100 organizations all working together to make a difference.”

A report prepared by the Center for American Progress and city of Dayton also credits law enforcement’s focus on prevention and treatment over criminalization and better data collection by local officials.

The report also cites initiatives like a syringe exchange program and the increased availability of Narcan as factors in the decline in overdose deaths. Since 2015, the city of Dayton has distributed more than $500,000 worth of Narcan, according to the report.

“We’re getting it into the hands of families and those that are using,” said Lori Erion, founding president and CEO of Families of Addicts.

Erion said she has been in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction and has a daughter who struggled with heroin. 

As local groups and officials work to bring overdose numbers down, she said she hopes recovery programs evolve to improve long-term results.

“We need to be innovative in how to keep people engaged in finding purpose and finding other activities and new people and places and things to be at,” Erion said.

While there was a year-to-year decrease, the coroner’s office documented a higher number of overdose deaths in November and December compared to those months in 2017, according to Dr. Kent Harshbarger, Montgomery County coroner. Many of those recent deaths have been linked to meth and fentanyl, he added.

So far in 2019, there have been seven overdose deaths in Montgomery County, according to a preliminary count from the coroner’s office.

To read the full report from the Center for American Progress and the city of Dayton, click here.

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