A county in West Virginia saw a staggering 26 heroin overdoses in four and a half hours Monday.
The 911 in Cabell County, West Virginia started receiving phone calls at 3:30 Monday afternoon about people overdosing on heroin. By 9:00 p.m., the number of overdoses stood at 26, The Herald-Dispatch reported Tuesday.
Gordon Merry, Cabell County EMS director, said the heroin was so strong — and potentially laced — that some victims had to receive more than one dose of naloxone — a drug that reverses the effects of opioid overdose.
“[I]f you have heroin please see what is going on and don’t use it. It could be your last time,” Merry told The Herald-Dispatch. “People aren’t familiar with what it is cut with and right now we don’t know what it’s been cut with.”
Bryan Chambers, communications director for the City of Huntington, told The Daily Caller News Foundation, “we can’t be sure” if the heroin was laced. He added the rate of overdose is “similar to other outbreaks in the midwest” and is at least “indicative of fentanyl.”
Fentanyl is an extremely potent drug that is 50 times more powerful than morphine.
Chambers said there have been 440 total overdoses in Cabell County from January to mid-June, 362 of which have occurred in Huntington. While those numbers are up from the same time period in 2015, the number of overdose deaths have fallen. There were 31 overdose deaths in Huntington from January 2015 to June 16, 2015, while there were 26 through the same time period in 2016.
Chambers did say, so far, only one of the 26 Monday overdose patients died.
One of the reasons Chambers gave for the spike in overdoses was the passage of what’s known as a “Good Samaritan” law. Where a drug user who contacts emergency personnel for things like overdose, cannot be prosecuted for use or possession of illegal drugs. Prior to such a law, if one person overdosed, a friend who is with them may have been hesitant to call 911 due to fear of their own arrest.
Officials say since most of the overdoses centered around one area, Marcum Terrace, they believe the overdoses are connected.
“Our country is going downhill fast,” Huntington resident Dan Corn told The Herald-Dispatch. “All because of drugs.”
A fentanyl-laced heroin dubbed “Game of Thrones” was involved in 10 overdoses in Vermont in August.
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