DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb in Montgomery County, so does the number of overdoses, according to the county’s ADAMHS board.
According to Helen Jones-Kelley, executive director of Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services, overdoses are up significantly compared to this time last year.
Officials attribute the surge to the effects of the pandemic, Jones-Kelley said.
The recent spike in COVID-19 cases has also created more challenges for recovery groups. For example, Families of Addicts recently switched back to holding all of its meetings online, according to executive director Anita Kitchen.
“We see once we go to the Zoom meetings that we’re having a lot more parents and families on there than we are actual people in recovery,” Kitchen said.
Kitchen told 2 NEWS she fears overdoses could increase over the upcoming holiday season, and Montgomery County’s ADAMHS board has already seen a spike.
According to Jones-Kelley, over the past 60 days, Montgomery County hospitals have seen 392 total emergency room visits for suspected overdoses, 50 of which occurred within the past week.
During a similar time period in 2019 – the months of October and November – the county saw 339 emergency department visits for overdoses, according to data from the Montgomery County Community Overdose Action Team (COAT).
“This is not the time for us to be using our emergency rooms for this purpose,” Jones-Kelley said.
COAT is looking at ways to address the problem, Jones-Kelley said, as many people also try to cope with increased isolation this holiday season.
If you won’t be with family this Thanksgiving, Jones-Kelley suggests volunteering or planning some other fun ways to spend the day.
“Play cards,” she said. “Watch a great movie on television. Listen to music. There are other things that people can do if they have to be alone. Use the telephone and call someone that you care about.”
Community leaders encourage anyone struggling to get help.
“People care,” Kitchen said. “This community really cares about their people and this area.”
The Miami Valley Warmline has been taking calls since March to connect people to mental health resources during the COVID-19 pandemic, Jones-Kelley said. The Warmline’s number is 937-528-7777, and the service is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
You can also call Montgomery County ADAMHS at 937-443-0416 to be connected to support services, Jones-Kelley said.
Families of Addicts can be reached by calling 937-329-2865.