Heroin’s grip in Middletown: 5 things to know

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Heroin’s grip in Middletown: 5 things to know

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The heroin epidemic appears to be strengthening its grip on the Middletown region, with many recent overdoses dominating public safety services. STAFF FILE PHOTO

The heroin epidemic appears to be strengthening its grip on the Middletown region, with many recent overdoses dominating public safety services.

Here are 5 things to know:

5 overdoses in same Middletown home: During a 26-hour period Friday and Saturday, there were reports of 10 drug overdoses in Middletown, including five in the same residence. Middletown paramedics administered Narcan and revived all the subjects. Then they were charged for various crimes by police.

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“Highly volatile drugs”: Middletown Health Commissioner Jackie Phillips said because the overdoses occurred so close together and in the same area, they could have been due to “highly volatile drugs,” a mixture of heroin and fentanyl. She said the drugs may have come from the same batch sold by the same dealer.

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Possible overdose, house fire connection: Michael Lewis, 42, of Middletown, died of an apparent drug overdose Monday afternoon in a home in the 600 block of 14th Avenue, his relatives said. The house caught fire about three hours later. Police and fire are trying to determine whether the overdose and fire are related.

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Heroin “eating public safety services”: Middletown City Manager Doug Adkins has estimated as much as 90 percent of public safety services are connected to fighting heroin and that commitment takes away from police officers and firefighters completing other responsibilities.

“It’s eating our public safety services alive,” Adkins has said.

Middletown Division of Police has added canines, and all five are trained to detect drugs, said Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw. The city made 800 drug arrests last year, which Muterspaw characterized as: “Not a dent.”

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Drug overdoses on pace for record year: Middletown had 118 drug overdoses the first two months of this year, a 174 percent jump from the 43 during the same time last year, Adkins said. The overdose deaths jumped from 10 to 13 during January and February this year compared to 2016, he said.

In all of last year, Middletown had 532 overdoses, 74 of them were fatal, he said. Of the overdoses, 306 were males and 226 were females, he said. The ages ranged from 17 to 71 and the average age was 38, he said.

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