Here’s what it actually costs a city like Middletown to fight opioids for a year

The costs to Middletown taxpayers for fighting the opioid epidemic in 2018 was calculated at more than $2.02 million, down from $2.3 million for 2017. In this June 2017 file photo, Middletown paramedics and police officers responded to a drug overdose. Middletown officials recently reporting that opioid-related overdoses were down 49 percent for 2018 from the 2017 totals. FILE PHOTO

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The costs to Middletown taxpayers for fighting the opioid epidemic in 2018 was calculated at more than $2.02 million, down from $2.3 million for 2017. In this June 2017 file photo, Middletown paramedics and police officers responded to a drug overdose. Middletown officials recently reporting that opioid-related overdoses were down 49 percent for 2018 from the 2017 totals. FILE PHOTO

In addition to Middletown recently reporting a 49 percent decrease in the number of opioid overdoses in 2018, the city is reporting a small decrease in the spending to combat and address the opioid epidemic.

Last year, Middletown spent $2.02 million battling opioids, which is down from the more than $2.3 million in 2017.

The city estimated it spent about $1.5 million in 2015, and it did not have an estimate of heroin response spending in 2016.

The 2018 opioid spending amount is just less than the approximate $2.3 million Middletown planned to spend for paving.

ExploreMORE: The overdose epidemic comes at a massive cost. In Middletown, it’s millions.

That spending shifted time and resources away from other duties, such as efforts to prevent other crime or the ability to respond to a medical emergency elsewhere in the city, officials said.

According to City Manager Doug Adkins, the city spent the following amounts in these departments to fight the opioid epidemic:

  • Police: $1,833,700, down from $1.920,000 spent in 2017
  • Fire/EMS: $96,702, down from $199,300 spent in 2017
  • Municipal Court: $55,000, down from an estimated $110,530 spent in 2017
  • Health Department: $42,073, down from $76,217 spent in 2017.

“If there is any potential ‘good’ that arose from the heroin epidemic, it is that it brought the community together to understand addiction better and work collectively on Middletown solutions,” Adkins said.

Adkins said he’ll be talking at the next Heroin Summit on Monday about the drop in heroin and rise in meth use. He also plans to encourage officials to broaden their focus from opioids to addiction in general.

ExploreMORE: Middletown’s opioid fight led to a drastic drop in overdoses last year

Police costs were estimated to include everything that could be tied to opioid-related cases and also the costs of the narcotics division, drug dogs, patrol officers and detectives. That included salaries and benefits, overtime, court time and Heroin Response team costs related to opioids.

Adkins said police spending dropped less than for some other departments because it also included efforts to curtail drug trafficking.

“K-9 and narcotics are expensive divisions of police,” he said. “If we can keep it from coming into the city, we help everyone else above (other departments such as Fire/EMS, the court and Health Department).”

The costs recorded for the other departments include funds for public safety, the court and health departments such as overtime, processing court cases, syringes, Narcan, investigation, enforcement, drug dogs and indigent burials.

ExploreMORE: Opioid overdoses trending down in Middletown

The 49 percent reduction in heroin overdoses in Middletown last year dropped the amount to its lowest level of overdoses and deaths in three years. Middletown reported its final 2018 numbers this month, and they included 493 heroin overdoses and 53 deaths.

In 2017, the city reported 966 heroin overdoses, of which 77 were fatal.

Middletown EMS responded to 202 other calls for meth, cocaine, alcohol and unknown and prescription abuse overdoses in 2018, as well.

In addition, Middletown EMS medics administered 834.4 mg of Narcan via 2mg doses using 419 syringes in 2018.

Adkins credited the reduction of overdoses in 2018 to the unified effort of the community, the city’s Heroin Response and Quick Response teams, EMS units and police.

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