War on opioids takes a turn when accidental overdose deaths drop dramatically

War on opioids takes a dramatic turn when accidental overdose deaths drop dramatically (WKEF/WRGT)

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - The war on opioids is taking a dramatic turn.

Accidental overdose deaths are down considerably in Montgomery County. The numbers for July are half of what we saw in May.

The opioid crisis is unpredictable and it's hard to pinpoint why the number of deaths are dropping. But recovery experts believe treatment, awareness and fear is helping out.

Every week, recovering heroin addict Sarah Wiggins visits Recovery Works Healing Center West Carrollton.

“Lately at night group we've been full,” Wiggins said.

She's been coming to counseling for a year, after being hooked on drugs for 16. In recent months, she's noticed more people seeking help.

“At the beginning of the summer we'd have like 6 or 5 of us and now we're up to 14,” Wiggins said.

Her theory is simple.

“People are getting scared that people are dying all the time,” Wiggins said.

For the first time, Montgomery County Coroner Dr. Kent Harshbarger is posting overdose death numbers online, listing by community and month.

Fox 45 mapped it out. Dayton has the most deaths followed by Harrison Township, Kettering and Miamisburg.

“The faster we can get out data, the more interventions can happen in the community to prevent OD deaths,” Dr. Harshbarger said.

The numbers reveal an encouraging trend. In May, there were 80 overdose deaths and in July just 33.

“This may be the first sign we're seeing that this is really working,” Dr. Harshbarger said.

Dan Suffoletto with the Health Department hopes so.

“Any death that you prevent is progress,” Suffoletto said.

His department is spearheading the Community Overdose Action Team, a regional group fighting the epidemic.

They’re helping expand treatment options, ramping up enforcement and educating the public.

“Not one thing is going to solve it so we have to work collaboratively on a lot of different angles,” Suffoletto said.

Wiggins prays it works, she's already lost 20 friends to drugs and doesn't want to lose another.

“I am optimistic and have faith that we can do it,” Wiggins said.

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