DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Chris Parsons lives in Dayton. Three years ago, he was addicted to meth and accidently overdosed on fentanyl. It took seven rounds of Narcan to revive him.

Now, he is grateful he got that second chance at life.

“I think it should be available and ready anywhere in the community because, I mean, there’s no prejudice when it comes to overdoses,” Parsons said.

Montgomery County has been hit hard by the drug epidemic, and the COVID-19 pandemic only made the crisis worse; however, there are promising numbers. Overdose deaths are down a little more than 18 percent from this time last year.

Part of that decrease can be attributed to the return of in-person treatment services and resources. Tina Rezash Rogal, the Director of Strategic Initiatives and Communications for ADAMHS, said another part is due to the push to make Narcan more readily available throughout the community.

“Montgomery County ADAMHS is trying very hard to get it into the hands of as many people as possible. Narcan is a substance that can revive someone who is suffering from an opioid overdose, and that gives that individual time to get professional help from a hospital or one of our treatment centers. And it saves lives,” Rogal explained.

Advocates with Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services were in Downtown Dayton Wednesday teaching people how to use Narcan and talking about ways the community can help those struggling.

“We’re really trying to reduce stigma around behavioral health, mental health issues, as well as substance use disorder. We want people to be able to talk about it. We want people to have dinner conversations. We want people to feel comfortable sharing with a family member, a friend, a neighbor, if they think they need help,” Rogal said.

In Clark County, overdose deaths increased in 2021 compared to 2020. Gracie Hemphill, the Health Planning Supervisor for the Clark County Combined Health District, said the numbers are similar so far in 2022.

“It’s about the same as what we were seeing in 2021. So we are hoping that it slows down and we don’t repeat the increase trend that we were seeing,” Hemphill said.

Advocates in Clark County also spent the day educating the community and giving out free Naloxone. Hemphill said she hopes this Overdose Awareness Day serves as a reminder to not be afraid to talk about addiction.

“Being able to talk about it without stigma and educate the community on what actions, what we need to do to come together and really make meaningful change to help individuals and to decrease the overdose death,” Hemphill said.

Today, Parsons is 17 months sober and helping other people through recovery. He said he is still in awe at how much life has changed for the better since getting help.

“I used to go down here on the rock to get comfort from the river when I was homeless. And now that red brick building is where I live,” Parsons said.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, click here or call the Crisis Now Hotline at 1-833-580-2255.