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One county, 70 minutes, eight overdoses
An alarming story out of southwestern Pennsylvania highlights the horrendous effects that heroin is having on America.
In an article titled “One county, 70 minutes, eight overdoses”, the Washington Post reported how in Washington, Pa., recently, eight overdose emergency calls came in to emergency responders in just over one hour.
A day later there were 16 overdoses, and by the end of the next day the total was 25 overdoses, three of them fatal. Most victims were saved because the county’s first responders carry naloxone, a fast-acting antidote to opioid overdoses.
The night began at 7:33 p.m. on a Sunday. A call came in saying two people had overdosed on heroin in a private residence just a couple of blocks from the station “where firefighters were awaiting their nightly round of drug emergencies,” the Post reported.
Six minutes later, another call came in. A 50-year-old man was found in his bedroom, turning blue from oxygen deprivation. There were empty heroin bags nearby. Then at 8:11, the Post said, a third call came in – and then another, and another, and another and another. All the ODs were caused by heroin, officials said.
Astonishing per capita overdose rate
The city of Washington is located about 25 miles south of Pittsburgh, and is the county seat of Washington County. With a population of only 200,000, the county is experiencing an astonishing per-capita epidemic of opioid overdoses this year – five to eight every day. Most are from heroin, the rest prescription opioid painkillers. These are the kind of statistics you might expect in a metropolis like New York or Chicago – upwards of 60 a week!
But the stories are the same all across the country, from smaller cities and even smaller towns and on out into the ‘burbs and farm country. Cheap, deadly heroin is finding its way into the very fabric of American life.
“It’s absolutely insane,” District Attorney Eugene Vittone told the Post. A former paramedic, Vittone says he’s trying to “hold back the tide of drugs that is washing across Washington County, but this is nuts.”
Rick Gluth, supervising detective on Vittone’s drug task force, added that there’s been “a progressive increase in overdoses the last two years, and it just went out of control. I’ve been a police officer for 27 years and worked narcotics for the last 15, and this is the worst. I’d be glad to have the crack epidemic back.”
Emphasis shifting from punishment to treatment
Like countless other communities these days, the emphasis in Washington, Pa., regarding addicts has shifted from strict law enforcement to treatment, particularly for opioid addicts not involved in serious trafficking.
But like everywhere else in America, the availability of state and local accredited detox and rehab centers is a tiny fraction of what’s actually needed. This means that almost everywhere you go, there are hundreds or even thousands of addicts with no place to go for treatment. The wait for beds can be many months – far too long for addicts skating along the thin ice of opioid addiction, overdose and sudden death. Waiting for treatment is never a good option.
Here at Novus, we’re deeply committed to helping as many people as we can to get their lives back. Novus provides a new type of medical detox, incorporating both the advanced medical procedures and holistic natural remedies to effectively combat withdrawals in a comfortable, safe and nurturing environment.
Furthermore, our patients are treated as individuals with dignity, respect and understanding in a non-judgmental environment. At Novus, you really begin to get your life back. Don’t hesitate to call if you need help with any aspect of addiction, for yourself or a loved one.
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