Seven counties across Ohio are seeing a spike in recent drug-related emergency room visits and overdoses this summer, and officials say the incidents are connected.
Between July 26 and July 30, there has been an increase in the number of drug overdose encounters in Butler, Hamilton, Lake, Lorain, Lucas, Montgomery and Stark counties, with a total of 63 drug-related emergency room visits, 39 accidental overdoses and 24 other drug-related visits.
Helen Jones-Kelley, who heads Montgomery County’s department of Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services, says many of the overdose deaths are linked to a particularly "bad batch" of heroin laced with dangerous levels of fentanyl.
“There’s something going on with what’s on the street right now," she says. "It’s more potent than what we’ve had in the past year and it’s been about a week and a half of just constant overdoses, not all of them resulting in death but overdoses that brings people to the brink of death and creates a real public safety concern for us.”
Jones-Kelley says fentanyl is known to be 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin.
The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office has also reported an increase in the presence of methamphetamine in overdose victims during autopsies.
At least 19 people died in July of an accidental overdose in Montgomery County. Another three have so far died in August.
Dayton-Montgomery County numbers show the overdose rate through July is less than half of what is was at this time last year. But health officials urge anyone affected by addiction to seek assistance.
Montgomery County has launched a new smartphone app that comes with treatment information and resources. The free app is called “Get Help Now Montgomery County.”