'Playing Russian roulette' with fentanyl-heroin mixture killed five in 24 hours in Middletown

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio - Butler County's coroner sent out a warning after five people were found dead from drug overdoses in one day's time.

 "This is a dangerous, dangerous drug," Dr. Lisa Mannix said Monday. "It's like playing Russian roulette with drugs. You don't know what you're going to get and it can and will kill you."

Unfortunately, the warning about a fatal fentanyl-heroin mixture came too late for the five people found dead in Butler County in the span of just 24 hours between Jan. 19 and 20.

Mannix says Butler County's proximity to the heavy drug trafficking along the I-75 corridor is one concern for officials trying to prevent drug deaths. Another issue is the dangerous mixture of fentanyl and carfentanil that addicts risk to reach a higher high.

"People don't know what's in the product and it may not be the same from one use to the next," Mannix said.

In 2012, the coroner's office reported an average of three deadly drug overdoses a month. That number of deadly O.D's has nearly tripled in 2016.

For the Butler County Health Department, the first step is prevention starting with free Narcan kits along with an educational class."

It's called Project Dawn, a program funded fully by the state that gives kits to participating health departments for free. Project Dawn has been helping addicts, their families and friends in Butler County for six months.

"We've had a minister get kits. We've had a cab driver get kits. We don't give them to agencies,"  said Butler County Health Commissioner Jenny Bailer. "This is for a community-based distribution."

In response to the recent spike in overdose deaths, the Butler County Health Department hopes to give out its remaining 50 Project Dawn kits.

All you have to do is call (513) 863-1770  to make an appointment.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati leaders are building their own plan to stop heroin deaths. Some members of city council got a briefing Monday on the progress to stop the deadly drug.

Hamilton County Public Health says it has three ways to respond:

  • Lower opioid and painkiller abuse;
  • Ensure access to medication-assisted treatment;
  • Expand the use of Narcan.

That agency has also been working with police and firefighters.

"We know that we're dealing with responder fatigue and the burnout associated with reviving people multiple times, sometimes in the same day,"  said Dr. Jennifer Mooney, director of Family Health Division.

The agency also gave an update on the Cincinnati Exchange Project, which lets users trade in dirty needles for clean ones. That project takes in around 15,000 dirty needles every month.

SEE WCPO's complete coverage about the Tri-State's war on heroin.

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