YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Nearly 700 people died from heroin overdoses in Ohio in 2012. That’s a 600% increase from 2000.
“It seems to be that it’s on the rise, and it seems to be a trend that’s happening unfortunately specifically in this area and surrounding counties,” says Chris Cunningham with the Mahoning County District Board of Health.
As heroin overdoses increase in the Valley, the health district is giving away Project DAWN kits. Inside each kit, there’s naloxone spray, also known as Narcan, to tackle the overdose. DAWN is an acronym for Deaths Avoided With Naloxone.
According to Cunningham, “The opioid takes full effect, suppresses your respiratory, suppresses your cardiac system. What this medicine does is it blocks the receptors that allow that to happen. It actually prevents that from happening and reserves it.”
Mental Health and Recovery Board Executive Director Duane Piccirilli says this was collaboration on an important issue. “Both Mental Health and Recovery have to work hand in hand with the Department of Health. So those dollars came down from state and we were able then to allocate dollars to the Mahoning County Health District to provide Project DAWN to the community.”
Project DAWN helps provide a chance for recovery before death. “In order to provide that hope, we have to start with steps like Project DAWN that helps someone in the midst of overdose to be able to come back from that and have a second chance at recovery,” says Angela McClellan, executive director of the Coalition for a Drug-Free Mahoning County.
Mahoning County was ranked 19th in Ohio for drug overdose deaths from 2007-2012. A year later, the county was ranked 14th.