An Ohio county sheriff revealed Thursday that his officers do not carry the overdose reversal drug Narcan when responding to opioid overdoses, citing risks to officers.
Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said that, despite the drug’s effectiveness at reviving unconscious individuals in the middle of an overdose, his officers do not carry it. The unique policy puts his department at odds with other law enforcement outfits throughout the opioid-ravaged state and the country, reports Cincinnati.com.
Jones argues that having a police officer administer Narcan to an addict can risk their safety, saying people revived from overdoses are often violent and prone to lashing out at police.
“I don’t do Narcan,” Jones said Thursday, according to Cincinnati.com. “They never carried it, nor will they. That’s my stance.”
The sheriff said he often hears residents and even social workers ask why police continue to revive people who repeatedly overdose on opioids. Dan Picard, a councilman in Middletown, recently proposed a three strike rule for repeat heroin offenders in Ohio, requiring community service before first responders will aid in a third overdose.
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. 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 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.
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.
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