Montgomery County overdose deaths dip: ‘People feel like they can get more support’



Montgomery County has seen fewer overdose deaths this year compared to previous years and some attribute the decrease to a community that is working together to save lives.

Another reason for the decrease may be the lessening of restrictions related to COVID-19, said Dayton Family of Addicts Executive Director Anita Kitchen.

“I think the numbers were up due to COVID because when people are isolated in addiction -- isolation is not good for any individual in recovery,” she said. “It’s not healthy for them. So now that we opened back up, I think that has helped the numbers because people feel like they can get more support.”

“But I also think the numbers are going down because this area is so good about getting out Narcan (an overdose reversal medication) that people are getting their lives saved when they do overdose ,” Kitchen said.

According to preliminary data from the Montgomery County Community Overdose Action Team (COAT), 123 people died in Montgomery County from accidental overdoses between January and May. That’s 18% lower than in 2021 when there were 150 recorded deaths in that time span.

There have been 10 overdose deaths in June, according to preliminary data. The data shows that 23 people died of overdoses in June last year. In June 2020, 42 people died.

Overdose deaths surged throughout the United States at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials said the reasons behind the increases nationwide might have to do with the added stresses created by the COVID-19 pandemic, and difficulty getting rehabilitative services during lockdowns and social distancing requirements.

Montgomery County did see an increase, but not at the rate other places saw.

Kitchen said FOA is getting back to normal after having to follow its own restrictions due to the pandemic. The mission is to support families who are impacted by addiction.

“We are back on the rise again,” Kitchen said. “Families definitely need the support and we are getting new families coming in.”



Sydney Silverstein researches drug usage in the Dayton area as an assistant professor in the Center for Intervention, Treatment and Addictions Research at the Wright State University’s Boonshoft School of Medicine. She said people from different parts of the Dayton community, including academics, public health, treatment professionals, faith-based organizations and survivor groups, are working together to help spread information about resources and advocate for people who need help through addiction.

“I think when you see a small downward trend it’s a good sign,” Silverstein said.

Silverstein has interviewed people who use drugs and she said many are trying to use as safely as possible because they don’t want to die. She said people are taking harm-reduction precautions like carrying Narcan and not using alone.

“No one who lives with an opioid-use disorder or a substance-abuse disorder, no one wants to live that life but sometimes getting better isn’t as easy as going to treatment,” Silverstein said. “And so in the meantime people kind of try to take these measures and try to draw upon resources...”

She said Dayton has been at the forefront of innovation to stop overdose deaths. Montgomery County is expected to announce another initiative this week to keep the community informed about drug overdoses.

“Dayton is still struggling with substance abuse disorders but I think one thing that we have to be proud of is that we’ve gotten a lot less in denial about it and there are some really amazing resources here,” she said.

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’ Crisis Now Hotline at 833-580-2255.

Overdose deaths overall by year in Montgomery County

2016 - 351

2017 - 566

2018 - 291

2019 - 288

2020 - 323

2021 - 337

2022 - 133*

*2022 statistics are preliminary

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