As more Kentuckians OD, agency looks to combat heroin addiction by visiting users in their homes

09/06/2016 04:26 PM

NEWPORT – After a spike in overdoses in urban areas around Kentucky politicians, authorities and agencies are scrambling to address the deadly threat.

The uptick in overdoses has been traced to supplies of heroin which contain fentanyl, which is 100 time more potent than morphine, and carfentanil, which is used as a large animal tranquilizer, and is 10,000 time stronger than morphine.

On Tuesday, Hamilton County Ohio Coroner Laksmi Sammarco confirmed that eight overdose deaths were due to carfentanil and they’re testing five more.

Northern Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy Director Kim Moser says that the dangers linked to fentanyl and carfentanil laced heroin are significant, because users don’t fully understand the dosage that they are taking.

“The users don’t know what they’re getting and they think they can use the same dose of heroin that they’ve always used, and they are really getting into big trouble,” Moser said. “Fentanyl is, as you probably know, 30 to 50 times stronger than heroin, and then carfentanil is a large animal analgesic and should never be used in humans.”

Moser, held an emergency meeting on Friday with a number of community leaders including the judge-executives of Boone, Campbell, and Kenton counties, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, along with other community leaders, law enforcement, and EMT’s, to look at ways to combat the growing heroin addiction problem affecting the region.

One possible solution is a program, based on a plan used in Colerain Township in Cincinnati, which consists of a team of law enforcement, paramedics, and someone from addiction services, or a trained advocate, going to visit an overdose victim at their home.

“These folks, within three to five days, go to the home and actually talk to the individual, and see if we can get them into treatment,” Moser said. “This is something Hamilton County and Colerain specifically has developed within the last year, year and a half, and it’s been very successful. The touch point to the individual is huge, and it really lets the individual know that someone in the community cares.”

Moser says that the key is to continue to put strong prevention efforts in place such as a new prevention curriculum in elementary schools to make it a normal part of discussion with kids that drugs are bad.


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