MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Ohio (WDTN) – The heroin epidemic has not spared a single part of the Miami Valley regardless of socioeconomics.
In 2017, the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office recorded 559 opiate overdose deaths compared to 349 in 2016 resulting in a 60-percent increase.
“That’s a lot of people. Overall, in about a four year period we’ve lost 1,200 people in this community to drugs,” said Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer.
Plummer blames the increase on Mexican drug cartels, lack of funds and access to treatment options.
“The cartels bring the heroin straight from Mexico to Dayton, Ohio and then our local gangs filter it out to neighborhoods,” said Plummer.
The Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug & Mental Health Services spokeswoman, Ann Stevens says the county is being proactive and hopes 2018 will be a pivotal year in saving lives.
“We will continue to think of more creative things we can do. We have a 24/7 ambulatory detox, a 24/7 county hotline and we’re adding additional treatment beds,” said Stevens.
Funds from the Human Services levy, which passed in November are also expected to help. For more information on that, click here.
2 NEWS reporter Maytal Levi asked Plummer, “Despite county efforts, why are the opiate overdose deaths still climbing?”. He answered, “It’s not working because we still have not got a proper handle on treatment.”
At the beginning of 2017 the county projected 800 overdose deaths, Stevens says 559 is nothing to proud of.
“There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done,” said Stevens.
She says the Community Overdose Action Team (COAT), which was created in 2016 will also make headway this year.
Levi asked Stevens, “What is the county going to do in 2018 to curb the epidemic?”. She replied, “Clearly, prevention needs to be the focus. So, we’re starting early with children to get them into the mindset that they don’t need to use drugs for every ailment they may have.”
For a list of treatment centers in Montgomery County, click here.