Montgomery County reported 35% fewer overdose deaths in January compared to the same month last year, a decline credited in part to the return of treatment availability after pandemic-related interruptions.
The county saw 22 fatal overdoses last month compared to 34 in January 2021, according to preliminary data from the Montgomery County Community Overdose Action Team. In January 2020, Montgomery County had 20 overdose deaths, according to the same data. Also, so far this month, eight overdose deaths have been recorded in the county. In February 2021, 30 overdoses were documented throughout the whole month.
A lot of work remains to stop overdoses in the county, health experts said. The number of overdose deaths last month was about the same as December, Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery County spokesman Dan Suffoletto said, and officials are implementing long-term solutions to save lives.
“The Community Overdose Action Team is always looking to expand and update the services in the community,” Suffoletto said.
Public Health continues to work with community partners and has an outreach team to connect people with help available. Also available are peer supporters — people who experienced addiction themselves, are now in recovery and working to help others. Anyone suffering from addiction and needs assistance can call the health department at 937-225-5700 for assistance or Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services’ new Crisis Now Hotline at 833-580-2255.
More people are seeking treatment for addiction now than in the past couple of years when the pandemic limited treatment options, said Richard Confer, the founder of Recovery Works Healing Center in West Carrollton.
“We’re busier with people seeking treatment which is good,” Confer said. “I don’t know if the use (of drugs) is any worse or better, but I do think we have seen an increase in people coming out and getting help more recently. If people are engaged in treatment, we usually don’t see overdose deaths take place.”
He said some of the people seeking treatment are doing so after being ordered to by a court, but he believes whatever it takes for people to get help is in their best interest. Officials have said that more drugs now are laced with fentanyl and other substances that the user might not know about, and therefore are even more dangerous.
Confer said people going through addiction usually need assistance to defeat it, and loved ones should support them.
“The reality of it is you can’t make anybody get help,” he said. “The best way to do it is to love someone and encourage them to get treatment. Don’t enable the behavior, but encourage them to get help.”
Montgomery County Overdose Deaths in January by year: