Overdose deaths hit westside area hard

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By Amanda Ensinger
Staff Writer

An epidemic that has been plaguing the country continues to hit close to home.

Recently, the Franklin County Coroner’s Office released its preliminary overdose death statistics for the first six months of 2019 and a local township has made the list for one of the highest number of overdose deaths in the county.

Franklin Township, which is spread out over eight miles, had two zip codes on the top five list. Those zip codes are 43223 and 43204. The other zip codes are 43211, 43229 and 43207.

“The drug epidemic continues to be an issue and has been for several years,” said Franklin Township trustee Aryeh Alex. “While we have done as much as possible to save lives, more needs to be done.”

Among the efforts the township has made to help those impacted by the crisis is to have a drug drop box at the township hall at 2193 Frank Road, arm all first responders with Narcan to treat overdoses and train residents on how to give Narcan to someone suffering from an overdose.

“The drug drop box helps get drugs off the streets,” Alex said. “The Narcan our first responders use saves lives and it’s important to also educate residents on how to give this lifesaving drug.”

Narcan is a medication that is used to block the effects of opioids.

Township officials went door-to-door inviting residents to a free training on how to give Narcan in case they witness someone having an overdose. According to Alex, approximately 30 residents attended the training.

“What we are doing is saving lives, but it isn’t getting to the root of the problem,” Alex said. “Lack of action by the state and federal government on this issue has resulted in communities not having the resource they need to make real change.”

Alex said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and President Donald Trump need to provide communities with the funding needed to invest in mental health treatment, addiction treatment and other social services to end the drug addiction cycle.

“It is wonderful that we received funding for Narcan and can use it to save lives,” Alex said. “However, as soon as people get treated, they are released from the hospital and are back doing the same thing. We need to get to the heart of why these people are doing these drugs and how we can help them escape this cycle.”

The funding the township received for the Narcan came from grant the township applied for and Alex said they are grateful to have those grants because some communities do not even have that.

The report from the Franklin County Coroner’s Office looked at overdose deaths from January 1 to June 30, 2019. According to the report, the office saw 254 people die of overdoses, a 4 percent increase from the same time period in 2018.

Opiate-related deaths accounted for 85 percent of overdose deaths for the first half of 2019, according to the report. Fueling this was fentanyl, which accounted for 75 percent of all overdose deaths. Heroin-related deaths accounted for 5 percent of all overdose deaths, a further decrease from the same period in 2018.

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