Detectives are investigating 20 suspected heroin overdoses that resulted in two deaths in Akron over the weekend.
According to Akron police, preliminary numbers show there were 20 overdoses reported between Friday and Sunday.
It’s not clear why there was an increase of overdoses, but police said past experience has linked the spike to a “bad batch” of a drug.
“It’s dangerous,” said Dr. Douglas Smith with the Summit County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board. “Using heroin is dangerous in general but you don’t know what you’re getting,”
Summit County Public Health officials keeps track of the amount of overdoses in the county using a data dashboard available on their website. So far this year, more than 620 overdoses have been reported. During the same period last year, about half that amount was reported before a spike in overdoses appeared in July. That was around the same time officials warned about heroin that was being laced with other deadly substances, including fentanyl and carfentanil.
When asked about 2017 projections when looking at the rate of overdoses reported in the county, Smithcited a report released by Guohua Li, MD, DrPH, professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University, which stated that there could be a peak in drug overdose deaths in 2017 before it begins to gradually decline in the following years. It’s a calculation that Smith relates to the current number of overdoses reported in Summit County in comparison to precious years.
Smith said local agencies and law enforcement are working together to put programs in place that would help trim those numbers and prevent future overdose deaths. Several cities in Summit County, including Akron, have set up Quick Response Teams to connect overdose victims with help.
The ADM Board has also increased the number of beds available in its detox facility and plans to add several more to offer for a total of 28.
“When we hit 23 [beds] we eliminated the wait list,” said Smith. “Now, there is no wait to walk into detox to get help.”
Smith hopes the programs and initiatives in place will help decrease the number of overdoses in years to come.
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