Overdoses on the rise in central Ohio

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Columbus paramedics had 31 saves from drug overdoses this past weekend. That’s about double the normal amount for a weekend. Those saves typically involve administering multiple doses on naloxone.

Ciarra Baker knows, first hand, how quickly naloxone can reverse the effects of a heroin overdose. “I’ve had to have paramedics come and I’ve had to have naloxone a few times and it brought me back,” Baker told NBC4. “If it wasn’t for that I’d be dead and I’ve been told that.”

Columbus EMS services spent $147,000 on naloxone in 2015 and expects to spend even more this year.

Sen. Sherrod Brown talks with recovering heroin addicts Nicole Alexander and Ciarra Baker
Sen. Sherrod Brown talks with recovering heroin addicts Nicole Alexander and Ciarra Baker

Sen. Sherrod Brown has introduced legislation that would provide funding to help local communities pay for the rising cost of naloxone.

“It shouldn’t be easier for Ohioans to get opioids than for first responders to get naloxone,” Brown said. “The government can get pretty good prices on this when it buys huge amounts of naloxone nationally.”

Brown’s bill would also expand access to drug treatment and provide support for lifelong recovery.

Ciarra Baker says she’s been clean and sober for three months and credits the treatment program at Maryhaven. “I feel really strong in my recovery and it’s the best thing that’s happened to me,” Baker said.

Columbus paramedic Lt. Pat Miller says it’s become an almost daily routine to respond to drug overdoses. “I’ve had them where there have been three or four people out and we’ve had to give them all… naloxone to pull them out,” Miller said.

Miller says the heroin epidemic is a sad and very frustrating situation.

“A lot of people we go on might have been in rehab one, two or three times and still can’t kick it,” Miller said.

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