Montgomery County Coroner Dr. Kent Harshbarger, left, and pathology technician Michelle Welch are seen in the cooler at the morgue where an increase in drug overdose deaths has been reported. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF
Photo: Staff Writer
Photo: Staff Writer

Overdose deaths on the rise in Montgomery County

Montgomery County officials reported an increase in the number of overdose deaths in recent weeks. 

Between March 22 and April 5 there were 17 overdose deaths in Montgomery County. That’s up from 11 deaths in the three weeks prior,  from March 1 to March 21.

So far in 2019 there have been 72 overdose deaths in the county. 

Through the efforts of the Community Overdose Action Team (COAT) the county reduced the number of overdose deaths from a record 566 in 2017 to 289 in 2018. 

RELATED: Dayton cut overdose deaths in half — and learned these lessons to prevent the next crisis 

Numbers continued to decline in January and February but were above last year’s total for March, according to preliminary numbers from the coroner’s office. 

“The increase in overdose deaths is avoidable, but only if we all act together to continue to solve the problem of addiction. If you know anyone who uses illegal drugs, please share this information with them and carry naloxone,” said Dr. Kent Harshbarger, the Montgomery County coroner.

Harshbarger’s office is continuing to see the powerful opioid fentanyl mixed into various street drugs. And they’ve now seen cases where the naloxone-resistant drug Xylazine is also mixed in. 

RELATED: Dayton getting national credit for battling opioid crisis

COAT is reminding the public that any illegal drug could contain fentanyl, which increases the chance for an overdose. While there is no safe way to use illegal drugs, experts recommend these steps to help reduce the risk of death:

  1. In the event of an overdose call 911 immediately.
  2. Have overdose-reversing drug naloxone available, and someone who can administer it, in case of an overdose.
  3. Call Samaritan Crisis Care 24/7 at 224-4646 for crisis, treatment and referral. 
  4. Do not use drugs containing fentanyl.
  5. Do not use drugs alone.
  6. Do not share needles.

Project Dawn offers free weekly naloxone overdose education and distribution every Wednesday at noon at 601 Edwin C. Moses Blvd, Door F, CrisisCare entrance, in Dayton. Call 937-734-8333 to schedule a group training. 

 
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