Overdose deaths increase as bulk carfentanil found in Montgomery County

A drug bust earlier this week turned up carfentanil — a highly potent synthetic opioid that hasn’t been found in bulk for a while in Montgomery County.

“We have not seen carfentanil in any significant degree for probably a year in our community,” said Montgomery County Coroner Kent Harshbarger.

MORE: Dayton area hospitals report 24-hour spike in overdoses

Harshbarger said his office has seen 11 overdose deaths in the last week, which he said is an uptick from a typical week.

“So it may be indicative of that powerful product now being on our streets again,” Harshbarger said.

Carfentinil is more potent than fentnayl and was created as a large animal general anesthetic.

“It’s not for human consumption. It’s too powerful,” he said.

The carfentinil was found present in a large amount of drugs seized Tuesday in the county.    The Miami Valley Bulk Smuggling Task Force, FBI and Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office seized over 20 kilograms of what was suspected to be fentanyl, 1,500 grams of suspected meth, 500 grams of suspected heroin, three firearms and over $30,000 in cash.

Harshbarger said every sample his lab tested of the suspected fentanyl also had carfentanil present.

Dan Suffoletto, spokesman for Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County, said any street drug has the potential to contain fentanyl or carfentanil.

While there is no safe way to use illegal drugs, there are steps that can reduce the risk of death and resources for help with addiction.

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Safety recommendations for people who use drugs include:

• Call Samaritan Crisis Care 24/7 at 224-4646 for crisis, treatment and referral;

• Have Narcan available, and someone who can administer it, in case of an overdose;

• do not use drugs that contain or may contain fentanyl;

• do not use drugs alone;

• do not share needles;

• and in the event of an overdose, call 911 immediately.

There are also services to help those who inject drugs reduce the chances they will do additional harm to themselves and others. The local program, CarePoint, includes the exchange of used syringes for clean ones, and referrals for substance abuse treatment and other health and social services. Call Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County at 973-496-7133 for more information.

Ohio Department of Health first reported carfentanil-related accidental overdose deaths in 2016, with the drug involved in 340 deaths in the state in 2016 and 1,010 deaths in 2017.

The efforts of the Community Overdose Action Team — made of different government and nonprofit agencies — helped drive down the number of overdose deaths from a record 566 in 2017 to 289 in 2018.

While overdoses have claimed fewer lives so far this year than in 2017, the community is still grappling with the opioid overdose crisis.

There were 226 accidental overdose deaths in Montgomery County from January through September this year, according to preliminary Public Health data. That compares to 229 overdose deaths the same time last year.

Overdose reversal training

Project Dawn Montgomery County offers free weekly classes to learn about naloxone (also called Narcan), an overdose reversal medication. Participants receive a take-home naloxone kit.

The class is noon Wednesdays at 601 Edwin C. Moses Blvd, Door F, CrisisCare entrance in Dayton. Please arrive 15 minutes early to register.

Call 937-734-8333 to schedule a group training.

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