COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Colerain Township's aggressive approach to the heroin addiction epidemic appears to be working, township officials said.
In early 2015, the township's police and fire departments decided to change the culture within their agencies; among the changes, they formed the concept of a quick-response team, which includes a police officer, paramedic and counselor, to respond to and help those who've overdosed on heroin. The team's goal is to help addicts so they don't overdose again.
Fire Capt. Will Mueller said, once many of the programs were implemented, the township had a 30-percent reduction in opioid-related overdoses during the second half of 2015.
This year, Mueller said, "is going to be the year to where we cultivate all those seeds that we have been sewing from the year past."
The departments also routinely hand out information about addiction resources in Colerain's neighborhoods. At a community forum Thursday night, they credited that educational work for also helping to reduce overdoses.
David Schiering, who said he's a recovering addict, sees hope in the township's work.
"This place is different," Schiering said, "and what is happening here is a totally different situation."
Drug overdose deaths surged in 14 states last year, including an 18.3 percent increase in Ohio. The state also had one of the highest overdose death rates nationwide, at 24.6 per 100,000.