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Chillicothe Gazette
Fighting the scourge of addiction
Jona Ison , Reporter
Dec. 30, 2016

CHILLICOTHE - There isn't another year in Ross County's more than 200 years where addiction and drugs were talked about more than in 2016 as the county came off of a record-shattering year of 39 unintentional drug overdose deaths. Even this week, The Washington Post capped months of interviews with residents and officials with a story about the opioid abuse and fatal overdoses. The story is part of a national series about death rates for whites, particularly women.

Although 2016 numbers aren't looking better - there were 34 confirmed drug overdose deaths as of Dec. 6 - the community's fight to reverse the tide was strengthened. The efforts started this year, which range from hundreds of students volunteering to be drug tested to connecting addicts with resources, are on course to continue growing in 2017.

A vital force in the direction of Ross County's opiate problem has been the Heroin Partnership Project, which is a pilot program that brings together local, state, and federal partners to create targeted community responses to the problem.

The group activated its Post Overdose Response Team (PORT) idea early after two men died of a drug overdose in the same home in April. The team, which consists of a mixture of law enforcement and treatment personnel, attempt to meet with every overdose victim and/or their loved ones within two days of a drug overdose where police responded.

PORT has made more than 200 site visits, talking directly to more than 40 people who overdosed and 76 loved ones. Other communities are already looking to replicate it, and the Ohio Department of Health recognized it with the 2016 Promising Practice Award. Adena Medical Center's emergency department also is in the final stages of making a similar effort with people who they treat for drug overdoses.

Law enforcement has touted the connections made with the Heroin Partnership Project for the smooth response to a September spike in drug overdoses. At one point, there had been more than a dozen drug overdoses within a handful of days, quickly making it the worst month of the year. Law enforcement, first responders, and Adena Medical Center reported administering 123 doses of the overdose reversal drug naloxone that month - 46 percent more than the next highest month.

Read the rest of this article and more at The Chillicothe Gazette

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