Miami County 2017 overdose deaths surpass last year’s total

Miami County recorded more overdose deaths in the first four months of 2017 than in all of 2016 — straining resources and subjecting those trying to help to a public backlash.

Dr. William Ginn, Miami County coroner, said 23 deaths attributed to overdose were recorded between January and the end of April. The county recorded 20 deaths attributed to overdoses for the full year 2016.

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The most common overdose is from a mix of heroin and fentanyl, or “multiple drug intoxication,” Ginn said.

Kim McGuirk is with the Tri County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services working in Miami, Darke and Shelby counties. She said one challenge facing those responding to overdoses is the public stigma attached to addiction.

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“Right now we are seeing a huge stigma and backlash for our first responders, EMTs, us in the treatment field. They are saying, ‘Why are you helping these people? Why are you giving them Narcan?’ … This is somebody’s daughter, son, grandson, parent … We’ve all been affected.”

The overdose problem is not unique to Miami County. In Montgomery County last year, 349 people died because of accidental overdoses, according to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office.

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McGuirk and representatives of local and Miami County law enforcement, public health, treatment agencies and the recovery community talked about the impact of heroin in communities of all sizes at a heroin and opioid education seminar Monday.

The epidemic “absolutely, it is straining our resources … ”, said Miami County Sheriff Dave Duchak. “It is just never ending. It is taxing us fiscally and taxing corrections, deputies, officers, troopers dealing with this trauma every day.”

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The sheriff said that as Monday’s public forum — held at the Covington Schools K-8 building — was going on, his jail staff was dealing with a female inmate who had been brought in by Piqua police, had concealed drugs and had overdosed. The woman was expected to survive, he said.

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Jordan Phillips, injury prevention coordinator at Miami County Public Health, referred to Ginn’s death statistics saying the county was on pace to see an estimated 72 overdose deaths by year end.

McGuirk said resources are available for those needing help addressing drug addictions.

“There are opportunities for folks who would like to get help,” she said.

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