Trumbull health officials credit Naloxone for saving 189 lives i - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Doctors key to properly easing people off of pain medications

Trumbull health officials credit Naloxone for saving 189 lives in March

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WARREN, Ohio -

Trumbull County health officials say the number of overdoses in March was the largest number they have ever seen.

The Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board and the Trumbull County Combined Health District reported 189 overdoses last month.

One health official says that without the use of the opioid reversal drug Naloxone, all 189 of those overdoses would likely have been fatal.

“This is the most we’ve ever seen,” said April Caraway, Executive Director of the Mental Health Recovery Board. “The use of heroin has transitioned to fentanyl.”

Fentanyl is a potent, synthetic opioid pain medication with a rapid onset and can cause prolonged respiratory depression.

“We have screened people who bought and thought they used heroin and they screened negative for it but positive for straight synthetic Fentanyl,” said Caraway.

Using heroin has become a death sentence according to Caraway. “If not for Naloxone, 189 Trumbull County residents would have died in March. Continued use should not be an option for anyone,” said Caraway.”

“We have treatment centers ready to accept people but only about 20% of the people being revived with Project Dawn are accepting help,” said Caraway.

In January there were 73 overdoses and in February there were 45.

Coroner’s reports are still being completed, but unofficially 39 people have died so far this year with 26 of the deaths in the month of March and an additional eight deaths since April 1st, according to a news release from Mental Health and Recovery Board

“This is a serious concern to us as this is becoming a major public health epidemic. It is exhausting our local resources and the Ohio Department of Health has had to assist us with these resources” said Sandy Swann, Director of Nursing at the Trumbull County Combined Health District.

One of the issues is the prescription of opioids, according to the news release.

People who have become addicted to prescription opioids are often abruptly stopped instead of slowly taken off of the pain medication.

This often causes intolerable withdrawal symptoms and they turn to street drugs to deal with their pain.

Doctors are the key to properly easing people off of pain medications so that people aren’t abruptly cut off of them and thrown into withdrawal.

“This is going to be a focus of ours to deal with directly. We can make a positive impact on this epidemic,” said Frank Migliozzi, Health Commissioner of the Trumbull County Combined Health District.

People needing assistance are being advised to contact the 24-hour Help Hotline or 211.

Those who need an assessment and require detox or treatment may call the Coleman Access Center at 330-392-1100 said Caraway.  

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