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'We have such an adulterated drug supply': Tri-State organizations work to reduce overdose deaths

14 fatal overdoses in Warren County last month
Posted at 9:10 PM, Jun 29, 2022

CINCINNATI — Brightview, a local addiction treatment center with locations throughout Ohio and Kentucky, celebrated its fifth year serving the community surrounding its Morgan Street location Wednesday.

In a press release, a Brightview spokesperson said the milestone highlights and recognizes "partners who've made significant contributions to recovery in the Cincinnati area."

Since opening the Morgan Street location, 3,860 residents have worked toward recovery with Brightview. Currently, the center has more than 700 patients under care.

“All of us that do what we do, really put our hearts in it," outreach manager Tammy Coke said. "We want to help people, we want to save people. It's hard, but they know that when they are ready they can always call us and we are there.”

One of the organizations recognized Wednesday was Harm Reduction Ohio, which says there is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to reducing the number of overdose deaths seen across the state.

"We have such an adulterated drug supply in Ohio," said AmandaLynn Reese, Harm Reduction Ohio's outreach coordinator. “15.9% of all overdose deaths in Ohio last year were all cocaine-related with fentanyl in them, and most of those people had no idea that they were using fentanyl.”

A 2022 Families Against Fentanyl study using CDC data found that in 2021 Ohio ranks third in the U.S. in overdose deaths.

"Fentanyl killed 209,491 since 2015," the study says. "Ohio alone lost 18,929 people in that same period — more than the bottom twenty states combined."

Reese said many who experienced an overdose didn’t even realize the drugs they were using had fentanyl in them. In some cases, she said the use of naloxone was not enough to save the person.

“You cant naloxone yourself," Reese said. "If other people don’t know not to use alone or to test their supply to make sure that fentanyl isn’t in there, and if it is to adjust their dosage, then they really can't take care of how much naloxone they are going to need.”

Reese believes the fast occurrence of an overdose has played a role in survival rates.

“Before they are even able to put their rig down, they are waking up in the hospital or surrounded by law enforcement or first responders," Reese said.

Reese said the combination of tools like test strips, naloxone and education can help bring down the number of overdoses seen in Ohio communities.

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