Montgomery County issues alert after 14 overdose deaths in week

LocalHelpNow app provides local treatment options.

An overdose surge alert was issued Monday by Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County after 14 people died in one week by suspected accidental overdoses.

The deaths occurred between Nov. 13 and Nov. 19, health department spokesman Dan Suffoletto said.

“Fourteen deaths in one week is a huge number, even taking into consideration what we’ve been through over the last couple of years,” said Dawn Schwartz, project manager for the Montgomery County Community Overdose Action Team. “You have to think about if we have that many deaths, think about how many overdoses we had both reported and not reported that didn’t result in death in that same week. It’s important for us to get out into the community that apparently there is some really, really bad stuff going on.”

Officials are still trying to determine why a spike in overdose deaths has taken place, but it might be a sign that a potent batch of drugs is being sold on the street, or that more people are using drugs, said Dawn Schwartz, project manager for the Montgomery County Community Overdose Action Team.

The time change can cause seasonal affective disorders and the holidays can spark grief that can cause some people to use drugs, she said.

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“We want people to do anything they can in terms of harm reduction and we want to link them to resources if they are ready for treatment,” Schwartz said.

There are numerous local resources for people who are fighting addiction. The LocalHelpNow app provides local treatment options and residents of Montgomery County can call the Crisis Now hotline at 833-580-2255 for mental health issues and substance use disorders.

Recovery is a lifelong process, Suffoletto said, and someone who hasn’t used drugs in years might be triggered to do so around the holidays. He said it’s important to know that fentanyl is a big problem and can be found mixed with different types of drugs that makes those drugs even more dangerous than they were years ago.

Data from the Montgomery County Community Overdose Action Team shows there have been about 18% fewer accidental overdose deaths between January and October than compared to the same time frame in 2021. However, there have been 23 suspected overdose deaths so far this month, compared to 15 accidental overdose deaths for all of November 2021.

There have been 266 suspected accidental overdose deaths so far this year.

The local health department offers surge alerts to notify people who use drugs and their support system when data shows using drugs is “even more risky than usual.” People can sign up for the surge alerts by texting their five-digit ZIP code to 937-582-8667. They can also sign up online at https://www.mccoat.org/odsurgealert.

Suffoletto said the overdose surge alerts provided to the community can be issued for non-fatal overdose surges, but in the most recent case fatal overdoses have caused the alert.

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