CINCINNATI -- Efforts to fight overdose deaths in the Tri-State are hitting the road.
A series of billboards popped up around the region Monday, promoting the use of the naloxone, the drug used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose — primarily heroin and now the more potent fentanyl, an opioid painkiller that law enforcement officials say is popping up as a lacer for heroin.
The signs are advocating folks to consider keeping the drug — recently made available without a prescription — handy at all times.
The giant roadsigns are part of the Ohio Department of Health’s campaign to educate the public of the recent surge in fentanyl-related deaths. The ODH recorded more than 500 fentanyl-related deaths in 2014, up from only 84 in 2013. Overall, drug overdose deaths in Ohio increased from 2,110 in 2013 to 2,482 in 2014, according to the ODH.
Fentanyl can be 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin.
“We need to hit it head-on,” said Tim Ingram, Hamilton County public health commissioner. “It’s a multi-faceted approach that we’re taking because it’s a very complicated public health issue.”
Ohio’s current two-year budget puts around $1 million worth of naloxone — also known by the brand-name Narcan — in the hands of EMTs and first responders. Ingram said the billboards are meant to remind the general public that they have access to the drug, too.
“We want to make sure everybody knows how to use naloxone because everybody deserves a second, third and fourth chance at life.
More information on naloxone and the ODH’s efforts to curb overdose deaths in the Tri-State at stopoverdoses.ohio.gov .