The opioid epidemic continues to ravage our community. This week, Franklin County Coroner Dr. Anahi Ortiz issued an alert after 5 people died of an overdose in less than 24 hours bringing the number to at least 18 overdoses in the last week.
Many of those deaths are occurring on the west and south side of Columbus, but Dr. Ortiz is making a plea to all families tonight.
She says in the first 6 months of 2018 there was a decrease in the number of overdose deaths in Franklin County compared to last year, however, a spike in deaths over the last month has her concerned.
She says he staff has been fielding heartbreaking calls.
“[Her assistant has] been getting calls from parents who are looking for their child who are addicted to heroin etcetera and they are calling here because they don’t know where they are and they’re just assuming they’re going to be dead,” said Dr. Ortiz.
She is making a simple plea to families who have an active addict, urging them to keep Naloxone on hand.
Mark Voils overdosed in 2008 and 2010 before getting clean and staying that way.
He was saved twice by Narcan, a brand of Naloxone, but it wasn’t available to his brother who overdosed in 2015.
“I can’t help but think if Narcan was available maybe someone that was in the room with him may have saved his life,” said Voils.
After 8 years of being sober Voils is now the Director of Admissions at Maryhaven and his message to families is: all is not lost.
“I know that there is hope and people can achieve sobriety,” said Voils.
But Voils and Ortiz point out addicts can only do that if they are alive.
According to Dr. Ortiz the lifesaving drug can be purchased at pharmacies without a prescription.
She also says that some of the current overdoses are a result of dealers selling pills to people who think they are buying Percocet; in reality, they are getting pills filled with Fentanyl.