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Local Medina County News

Task force talks drug problems developing in Medina County

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    Tadd Davis, an agent with the Medina County Drug Task Force, gave a presentation Thursday at the Safe Communities Coalition meeting, updating members on the opioid epidemic.

    ASHLEY FOX / GAZETTE

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    Holly Phillips, a registered nurse with the Medina County Health Department, discussed Project DAWN with law enforcement members.

    ASHLEY FOX / GAZETTE

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2016 DRUG STATISTICS

Medina County had 258 drug overdose cases and 34 overdose deaths in 2016, according to the Medina County Drug Task Force.

OVERDOSE CASES BY CITY

  • Wadsworth — 68
  • Brunswick — 42
  • Medina — 26

Cities: 136

Townships and villages: 122

OVERDOSE DEATHS BY CITY

  • Brunswick — 10
  • Wadsworth — 5
  • Medina — 2

Cities: 17

Townships and villages: 17

 

21617985

Tadd Davis, an agent with the Medina County Drug Task Force, gave a presentation Thursday at the Safe Communities Coalition meeting, updating members on the opioid epidemic.

ASHLEY FOX / GAZETTE Enlarge

An agent with the Medina County Drug Task Force told law enforcement and health officials Thursday that authorities are seeing:

  • An increase in cocaine abuse,
  • A big jump in the use of naloxone, the antidote for overdoses,
  • A three-fold increase in the number of overdoses in vehicles.

Tadd Davis of the task force presented the data to a quarterly meeting of the Medina County Safe Communities Coalition.

Davis said the opiate abuse problem stems from prescribed pharmaceuticals.

Some physicians, Davis said, have prescribed opiates in many kinds of medical procedures — including occasions when patients have not been seen by the prescribing

physician.

“It’s been some, not all, physicians,” he said. “It (an opioid)was being dispensed like you wouldn’t believe.”

He said authorities are seeing a reduction in prescriptions, but that leads to patients going outside the medical community for pills.

The task force said suspected overdoses in the county were 258 for 2016, a number more than double 2015’s 128.

Suspected overdose deaths rose from 20 in 2015 to 34 in 2016.

In 2015, there were 44 cases where naloxone was used. “Now we’re up to 122 in (2016),” Davis said.

He noted that in a case where an overdose victim is given an antidote, that information is not always reported to the county health department, which runs a program that provides the antidote to those close to someone addicted to heroin.

Another statistic revealed that overdose cases in vehicles rose from 14 in 2015 to 49 in 2016 in the county. “Quite an increase, folks,” Davis said.

Davis said the vehicle statistics cause investigators to spend more time at crash scenes and lead to more funding needed for law enforcement training and education.

Cocaine use grows

Davis noted the task force has seen a “drastic change” with cocaine use increasing because of fears about heroin being mixed with fentanyl and carfentanil.

Fentanyl is sometimes found mixed with methamphetamine, ecstasy and other drugs, he said.

Some heroin users, however, are still actively seeking and expecting fentanyl and carfentil, which produce stronger highs.

Carfentanil, which is used as a sedative for large animals such as elephants, has become popular because of the profit margin, Davis said.

There is a larger profit margin because a dealer pays about $65,000 per kilogram of heroin versus $10,000 per kilo for carfentanil.

He said drug users see methamphetamine as “safer” and more affordable.

Users and dealers find ways to have drugs come from other countries because of the prices.

“Drug abusers are not silly, stupid people,” Davis said.

Difficulties with synthetics

Synthetic drugs make law enforcement work difficult, Davis said, because they are difficult to detect and can be available on the internet.

He said the health risks of those substances are unknown and police agencies see constant changes in that sector.

Davis advised the audience to treat powder substances with extra caution at the scene of a reported overdose.

He noted there have been cases of officers not immediately aware of substances at a scene who then find themselves with overdose symptoms.

Wearing masks and covering arms and hands are preventive measures, he said.

Project DAWN

Registered nurse Holly Phillips told the audience the health department will distribute naloxone to anyone interested in attending a program about it.

Participation in the program is confidential and available to those age 18 and older.

Health Department Commissioner Krista Wasowski and community relations specialist Sonya Callahan said in an email that $6,462 from the state was used to purchase Project DAWN kits. Project DAWN stands for Death Avoided With Naloxone.

State legislation in 2015 authorized the purchase of naxolone for law enforcement and EMS agencies.

“These Project DAWN kits are distributed upon voluntary request of family members, relatives, significant others, and friends of opiate users who are at risk of opiate overdose,” Waskowski said.

Last April, the department’s ability to distribute kits was expanded to include mental and behavioral health providers, sponsors and others to assist a known user considered at risk of an overdose.

Phillips said she distributes two to three naloxone kits a week.

Contact reporter Ashley Fox at (330) 721-4048 or afox@medina-gazette.com.



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