7 powerful consequences of the opioid epidemic that help explain its devastation in Ohio

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7 powerful consequences of the opioid epidemic that help explain its devastation in Ohio

President Donald Trump on Thursday announced that he would roll back regulations to allow state governments looking to access Medicaid funding for drug treatment centers with more than 16 beds.

This news organization has covered all sides of the opioid and overdose spike, from impact on families to effect on public services.

Here are seven of the most powerful consequences of overdoses on southwest Ohio.

Overdoses in all kinds of places

The railroad stretch in Middletown where a Norfolk Southern conductor spotted a woman lying Wednesday on the side of the tracks. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF Staff Writer

From the middle of the street to high traffic restaurants, overdoses are happening in some unusual places.

Emergency crews say a Middletown man who overdosed is lucky to be alive after he fell onto nearby railroad tracks.

Dayton police were called to the Arby’s parking lot on Salem Avenue, where a 59-year-old man was overcome by a suspected opioid overdose.Springfield police patrolling on West North Street shortly before midnight allegedly saw Dalton L. Smith, 24, stagger and fall to his knees in the median between West Columbia and West North streets, according to court records. Two children, ages 3 and 5, were standing nearby, police say.

A co-pastor with Sons of Light Ministries said he's glad the man who overdosed on heroin did so in a bathroom at the Dayton church, otherwise help could have come too late.

Heartbreaking scenes faced by family members

Brian and Courtney Halye pictured on their wedding day, in this photo from Courtney Halye's Facebook page.

The deaths of a Centerville pilot and his wife gained national attention, in part because they were discovered by their four children.

Centerville Police Department released two 9-1-1 calls made by two children in the home where Brian and Courtney Halye were found dead Thursday morning. A 13-year-old boy told the dispatcher, "my two parents, I just woke up, and my parents are on the floor. My sister said they are not waking up." 

Drastic measures proposed

After a Journal-News report about Middletown Councilman Dan Picard’s suggestion the city’s public safety services not respond to some overdose calls, officials spent the last several days answering questions from national media outlets, City Manager Doug Adkins (pictured) said. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF 2016 Staff Writer

Continually frustrated by the overdoses and the cost, some have called for significant changes. Social media reacted strongly when Middletown City Council member Dan Picard asked if it was possible for EMS to not respond to overdose calls.

Noting people with cancer don’t get free chemotherapy from medics nor do people having heart attacks get a free heart bypass in an EMS run, Picard asked if there was a law that requires the city to respond to overdose calls.

Accidental overdoses on powerful opioids

A sample of fentanyl is seen at the Miami Valley Regional Crime Laboratory. The highly potent synthetic opioid — often cut with heroin or used alone — is believed to be responsible for much of the increase in local overdose deaths.CHRIS STEWART / STAFF Staff Writer

Because of how powerful heroin, fentanyl and other drugs are, even incidental contact by those trying to help has led to overdoses.

The incident highlights the chilling danger to police and the public from an extremely powerful opioid that, at its most potent, just a few granules can kill.  

Fentanyl is so rampant in Ohio, it raises concern that people other than law officers are also at risk of accidental contact with deadly drug residue in places like public restrooms where addicts commonly use drugs, in hospitals where users are treated, and in the homes of drug users.

Courts and morgues are clogged

A Montgomery County task force recovered drugs, cash and a weapon during an operation this week that netted four arrests and 44 pounds of fentanyl. STAFF/MARK GOKAVI Staff Writer

The fentanyl epidemic that has clogged the streets, filled the Montgomery County morgue and launched hundreds of police investigations has led to more federal prosecutions as law enforcement attempts to disrupt the flow of drugs into the area by targeting dealers.

Fentanyl has become such a presence on some streets that police caught an alleged dealer when he flagged down a plain clothes officers’ car.  

“You make room for these cases. You just do,” Brent Tabacchi, assistant U.S. attorney, said of the crush of new cases. “That has meant longer hours for a lot of people here in the office. It means a lot of times we’ve been calling our magistrate judges at 10:30 or 11 o’clock at night to get warrants.  

“We’ve always had some element of that, but when a week or two goes by and we’re not in here at night doing something, it almost seems unusual now.”

First responders are facing the strain

Middletown paramedics and police officers responded to a drug overdose behind the Midd-Town Carry Out on Central Avenue Monday, June 26 in Middletown. Emergency personnel found a man unconscious, lying between two vehicles across the alley. Paramedics first tried to start an IV, the fastest and most effective way to push Narcan into the man’s system, and when that failed, Narcan was administered through the man’s nose. Then a second IV was started. The entire time, paramedics bagged the gentleman until his oxygen level returned to normal. Two doses of Narcan, twice the normal amount, were used to revive the man, who was transported to Atrium. In the matter of a few minutes, all 17 emergency personnel working Monday night in the city were on calls and the dispatcher requested mutual aid from the Monroe Fire Department. One of those calls was an overdose. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF Nick Graham

A summer ridealong with Middletown paramedics this summer produced a powerful photo story by this news organization about what emergency crews face in the field.

Emergency personnel found a man unconscious, lying between two vehicles across the alley. Paramedics first tried to start an IV, the fastest and most effective way to push Narcan into the man’s system, and when that failed, Narcan was administered through the man’s nose. Then a second IV was started. The entire time, paramedics bagged the gentleman until his oxygen level returned to normal.

The huge cost: $8.8 billion in Ohio

Opioid addiction, abuse and overdose deaths cost Ohio from $6.6 billion to $8.8 billion, according to a new report from the C. William Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy at Ohio State University.

The problem is particularly acute in rural areas, where too many have little access to medication-assisted treatment. And the report turns a spotlight to the Dayton area and beyond, saying: “This is a particularly critical issue in the rural areas of Southwest Ohio, where opioid abuse rates are high but local access to treatment is limited.”

-- From Opioids cost Ohio $8.8 billion, Oct. 26

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