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Number of people overdosing in the city increasing

Number of people overdosing in the city increasing (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - A number of things are being done to fight the heroin epidemic, but the problem in Hamilton County is severe and some new numbers show is getting worse.

City health officials say this area is doing some things right in fighting the heroin epidemic, but the number of people overdosing is on the rise, showing there's a long way to go in getting this under control.

Cincinnati's Needle Exchange is a bright spot in glum update on the heroin epidemic.

Health officials say 40,000 needles are being exchanged every month, keeping dirty needles off the street, which can reduce the spread of Hepatitis C.

"When they're exchanged for sterile needles is that creates a touchpoint and if these folks are coming back in on a weekly or sometimes more often basis that's one more opportunity that we have to engage that person in the treatment process,” said Jennifer Mooney, PhD.

But sadly, the number of people overdosing in the city is going the wrong way. The Health Department says 1,676 people overdosed last year. The number this year is already 1,733 and it is only September.

This year, 122 people have died from heroin overdoses versus 107 in 2016. Public health officials credit Narcan and first responders for the number not being higher.

"Basically their average response time for all calls is under five minutes,” said Mooney.

The city is also testing out a Quick Response team. Fire and treatment officials visit addicts who overdose to try to get them into treatment, but Councilmember Yvette Simpson says the city needs a data base for first responders to see where there are beds open in treatment facilities.

"The idea that if someone, after being revived by Narcan said 'I'd like to go to treatment' we don't know where to take them. So we want to be able to have that availability so we can make that recommendation,” said Simpson.

City council has not approved funding for a database.

The Cincinnati Fire Department said that it's pretty rare for someone revived with Narcan to ask to be taken to treatment.

Right now, if someone did, they would likely be taken to the hospital and hopefully connected with resources there like the Addiction Services Council.

Hamilton County is increasing the amount of Narcan available through a partnership with a company that makes it.

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