Montgomery County leaders staying hopeful as they continue fight against opioid epidemic

Montgomery County leaders staying hopeful as they continue fight against opioid epidemic (Photo: Pixabay, via MGN Online)

DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - After a steady decline in overdose deaths every month since May, Montgomery County officials said they saw in increase in the number of deaths in November.

However, they're remaining hopeful.

There were 81 accidental drug overdose deaths in May, with a steady decline through the following months. In November, there were 30 overdose deaths; three more than in October.

Community leaders said they're still confident progress is being made.

"When I smoked marijuana, it wasn't very long after that I dropped out of high school and kind of dropped out of life all together," said former drug addict Gary Gonnella.

Gonnella started smoking marijuana at 15.

"I experimented with every drug that was available at the time, including opiates," he said. "When I was 26 years old was the first time I was introduced to the idea of recovery."

His story of recovery will be featured in a series of videos that aim to de-stigmatize addiction and put a face on recovery.

"And to provide a sense of hope so that people can see that people do recover and that the end road isn't always death," Indigo Life Media Co-Owner Lauren White said.

White is behind the videos, which will be on Facebook every other Monday starting in January.

"There's definitely a diverse range of people's years in recovery whether they're early in it or much longer," she said.

Her older brother was an addict. She and the others at the Community Overdose Action Team (COAT) monthly meeting are working to combat the opioid overdose deaths in Montgomery County.

Last year there was 349. So far this year, there have been 559.

"Over half of the deaths that are occurring within our county are outside the city of Dayton," Montgomery County Health Commissioner Jeff Cooper said.

COAT is made up of more than 100 local organizations trying to reduce the number of drug deaths Including getting people in treatment.

"We are making a difference," he said. "We will continue to show progress and we ultimately will make Montgomery County a healthier, safer and more thriving community."

The stories of recovery will be on Montgomery County's, the health department's, Families of Addicts and Indigo life's Facebook pages.

Every Friday the coroner's office updates the number of unintentional drug overdose deaths.

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