Franklin fire chief says town is experiencing meth spike

Posted at 10:31 PM, Oct 04, 2017

FRANKLIN, Ohio -- Fire Chief Jonathan Westendorf's department responded to two methamphetamine overdoses in 2016. Between April and October 2017, that number doubled nine times over. 

"The methamphetamine overdoses are a completely different animal," he said.

Meth can appeal to users and dealers as a store-brand alternative to drugs such as heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil, Westendorf said -- it's cheaper, gives a greater high and doesn't make as many headlines as opioids have done.

"I think a lot of it has to do with some recent high-profile drug seizures and arrests," he said.

However, it's just as deadly.

Although meth isn't doesn't loom as large as opioids in the 2017 media landscape, headlines about the former will look familiar to those who have watched the spread of the latter: children who have died after accidentally overdosing on their guardian' drugs, traffic crashes caused by drivers who used before they picked up their keys and -- mercifully -- stories of hard-won recovery.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 12 million people -- nearly 5 percent of the total United States population -- have used meth at least once in their lives, and about 1.2 million do so each year. 

Westendorf said Wednesday he was optimistic a new program called HOPE -- Heroin Opioid Prevention Education -- could help opioid users in the Franklin community as well as their families by providing post-overdose home visits and a community naloxone program.

He hopes the methamphetamine spike doesn't last.

"There really is no part of our community that is untouched from this," he said.