BRADFORD — According to a September 1 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Overdose Deaths Related to Fentanyl and Its Analogs-Ohio, January-February 2017”, approximately 90 percent of unintentional overdose deaths examined in 24 Ohio counties that occurred during January-February 2017 involved fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, or both, whereas heroin was identified in the minority, six percent, of cases, with somewhat higher prevalence in Appalachian counties.
“Among the 281 decedents, 122 (43.3 percent) were from Montgomery County (City of Dayton), a large urban county with a population of approximately 530,000 persons,” the report said.
Monday, September 25, Bradford Public Library hosted speaker Covington Police Department Chief of Police Lee Harmon about the rising opioid crisis. Covington has had two deaths this year from heroin/fentanyl, with a third one at the edge of town, Harmon said.
“I ask people, if you had something in the village going around killing two people a year, you would be locking your doors and afraid to walk outside of your house,” Harmon said. “But we have this stuff that comes in; they bring it in. They drive down to Needmore Road (Dayton) – to wherever, It’s a skip and a jump from here. They buy it, and most of them can’t wait to get home to use it. They will find the nearest rest area, pull over, shoot up and go about their business. And sometimes that business is falling asleep, while they are driving and crashing into another car and killing a car load of people. It is bad news.”
“The news makes everything sound way worse than it is,” he said. “It is bad, but in the villages of Bradford and Covington we are very fortunate. We enjoy a relatively low crime rate, and Ohio has one of the the best law enforcement traditions in the United States.”
According to a 2016 census, Miami County’s Population is estimated at 104,679 people. A report from Miami County Public Health Commissioner Dennis R. Propes states, there are 27 confirmed overdose deaths since January 1: ten involved heroin, 22 involved Fentanyl and eight involved Carfentanil. In addition, actual overdoses that may or may not have ended in death are as follows: August, 2017-62 ; August, 2016-85; and August, 2015-87.
“Most people will tell you, with law enforcement, the first thing we have to do to stop this is tighten our borders,” Harmon said. “We do need to restrict what comes through our borders. We need to work with the country of Mexico to get something that stops this stuff from coming through as much as it has, because that is where most of it is coming from. This is not a commentary on illegal or undocumented people coming across, because that is not how it is getting across. It is getting across with people who knowingly are carrying this stuff, muling it across the border, and bringing it to Dayton, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, unloading it and going back to Mexico to bring back more. We have to figure out how to stop that.”
Harmon went onto discuss other ways the drug problem is growing, such as through prescription drug use. He explained that some people who are prescribed drugs for pain become addicted, and once the prescription ends, they seek drugs elsewhere. According to the CDC, the misuse of and addiction to opioids—including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl—is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. The CDC estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment and criminal justice involvement.
One of the many dangers of street drug use is the unpredictability of the drug, whether it is heroin, fentanyl or something else; and the potency of the dosage and the potency of the product.
“This is not an exact science, and people don’t know what they are doing,” Harmon said.
For more information about drug facts, visit www.drugabuse.gov
EDS NOTE: This story is part of an ongoing series titled “Fatal Addiction” that will address the drug problem and effects on residents and resources in Darke County.