New Year brings an air of hope after a record number of accidental OD deaths in 2017

New Year brings an air of hope after a record number of accidental OD deaths in 2017 (WKEF/WRGT)

MIAMI VALLEY, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - in 2017, the opioid crisis devastated hundreds of local families. The year marked a record for accidental overdose deaths in the Miami Valley.

FOX 45 has partnered up with DEA 360, and found out that many have a renewed sense of hope in the New Year.

Trint Smith was homeless and addicted to heroin.

"From a year ago to today," he said, "it's such a dramatic change."

Now, he has a home, job and girlfriend, thanks to therapy and the anti-addiction drug Vivitrol. Smith was able to escape the grasp of death, but others weren't so lucky. As of December 21, the Montgomery County Coroner said 558 people died of an accidental overdose, shattering previous records.

The crisis hit it's peak in June, with 81 deaths.

Through the first 3 weeks of December, that number dropped to just 16.

Richard Confer at Recovery Works Healing Center said more people are getting help.

"I don't think the stigma for drug addiction is as bad as it was," he said.

His own daughter Lauren died after overdosing on carfentanil.

"Addiction doesn't discriminate," Confer said.

He's now on a crusade to track down the source of the problem, creating an online petition to ask lawmakers to create stiffer penalties for drug dealers.

"They know what they're doing," he said. "They know they're taking a chance with someone's like. It's no different than giving them a loaded gun."

Confer and Smith are both holding on to hope as people flip their calendars and stare down a blank page.

If 2017 was the year of the overdose, hopefully 2018 is the year of recovery.

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