A city councilman is proposing a three strike rule for repeat heroin offenders in Ohio, requiring community service before first responders will aid in a third overdose.
Dan Picard, a councilman in Middletown, Ohio, wants the city to implement the three strike rule to save money on the community’s supply of Narcan, the overdose reversal drug. Heroin abuse is rampant in Ohio and officials in Middletown have already spent more on orders of Narcan this year than they did in all of 2016, reports WSAZ.
Picard argues that the rate of overdoses is draining the resources for the police and fire departments in the city, and says they simply cannot sustain the cost of Narcan at the current rate it’s being used. The proposal would require anyone who has been revived from two drug overdoses to complete community service before first responders will respond to a third drug overdose.
“We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to maintain our financial security, and this is just costing us too much money,” Picard said, according to WSAZ.
The proposal is currently under legal review in Middletown and is stirring up some anger in the community. Nurses and other officials in the town said they have seen addicts turn their lives around after multiple overdoses.
“We’re going to show up because it’s a life,” Travis Garrett, fire captain in Portsmouth, Ohio, told WSAZ. “It’s somebody’s child, somebody’s brother, somebody’s sister. It affects everyone. This time may be the time it turns her around, turns him around. You never know.”
The national opioid epidemic, which claimed a record 33,000 lives in the U.S. in 2015, is hitting Ohio particularly hard. The opioid death rate in the state spiked 13 percent between 2014 and 2015, among the largest increases in the country. Heroin deaths increased by nearly 20 percent over the same period, claiming 1,444 lives.
Officials in Ohio say opioids are also the main driver of a 19 percent spike in the number of kids removed from parental custody to foster care since 2010.
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