Heroin overdoses way down in Cincinnati area since summer spike

Less carfentanil on the street, chief says
Posted at 7:43 PM, Nov 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-15 19:43:06-05

NORWOOD, Ohio – Heroin overdoses in the Tri-State have dropped significantly in the last few weeks. Now agencies and police are increasing their efforts to keep the arrow pointing downward.

At one point, fire departments across the area were dealing with more than 50 overdoses a day. Now that number is as few as three a day.

Inside a Norwood Police substation, a handful of workers with the Addiction Services Council try to keep in touch with the 85 people in Norwood alone who have overdosed since July.

If they can get them to agree to a face-to-face meeting, 75 percent of the time they can get them into treatment.` "It's been really successful," said Nan Franks. "Sometimes it's hard [for addicts] to make that first phone call.

"Most people really do want the help."

Overdoses spiked in August after heroin mixed with elephant tranquilizer was sold on area streets. Police say there's less carfentanil out there today.

"It kind of gives us an indication there's not as much fentynal or carfentanil on the street," said Newtown Chief Tom Synan, head of the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition Task Force. "Hopefully some of the efforts we've been making are making some difference in that."

If there is another spike, officials are more ready for it, Synan said.

"What we learned from the carfentanil and the overdoses from the spike is that we need to be more 'real time,' " he said. "Back then we got weekly numbers. Now we get daily numbers and we're monitoring this by the day so it allows us to respond a lot quicker."

"It's a testament to our community that we've been willing to step up our game on this," Franks said.

The Addiction Services Council is focusing on heroin users in Norwood and Colerain, but anyone can call their hotline and they'll help. The local number is 513-281-7880. In Kentucky, it's 859-415-9280.

READ more in our special section, "Heroin in the Tri-State."