YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The epidemic of opioid addiction continues to take victims on a daily basis across our area.
It’s been around since the early 1970s, but spray kits may now be the most popular form of the overdose-reversing drug Narcan.
In Trumbull County alone, first responders have used kits to save 95 people this year.
“Good thing is they’re alive. Now we’ve got to get ’em access, immediate access to treatment. All Narcan does is enable somebody to breathe, it doesn’t enable them to use again,” said Thom Duddy, a vice president with Emergent BioSolutions, which makes Narcan.
Unfortunately, the use of opioids continues to plague the region.
According to the most recent figures, Mahoning and Trumbull counties have seen at least 60 confirmed overdose deaths each, while there have been 20 in Columbiana and 27 in Mercer.
While the numbers show a slight drop from a year ago in Mahoning County, there’s been a spike again in Trumbull.
Duddy said efforts are being made to cut down on long-term opioid prescriptions.
“They are required to either go to a pain management doctor where they can guide them through their pain management or also ask them to prescribe Naloxone alongside that prescription,” he said.
Still, there are those who argue saving victims with Narcan simply enables addicts to overdose again.
Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene, who started sharing Narcan kits with area police agencies four years ago, said first responders cannot pick and choose who to help.
“I think it’s just a matter of us being out there and with the Narcan. If you get an opportunity to save a life, you know, we’re gonna do it,” Greene said.
The sheriff admits, as do local health officials, that without Narcan spray, the death toll might be much, much worse.