How is Northern Kentucky fighting back against heroin?
On Monday, the community found out through a presentation from the Northern Kentucky Heroin Impact Response Task Force. In 2013, the group released a large, comprehensive plan to combat the rising drug problem.
"We've not seen the deaths go down the way we'd like. We've not seen overdose hospitalizations go down the way we'd like. But we have seen some successes,” said Van Ingram with the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy.
Since the last update from the Heroin Impact Response Task Force, a bill was passed giving more funding for treatment and tougher penalties to traffickers, Narcan training has improved, and, pending approval, local needle exchange programs are ready to go.
In numbers provided to FOX19 NOW, more than 500 police officers have been trained in administering Narcan. The team reports that they know of 36 people saved by Narcan, including seven saves by police.
But, like so many others, Nicholas Specht was a young man with a whole life still to live.
"We lost our son Nicholas on August the 8th, 2013 to an accidental overdose of heroin in our home,” said his mother, Holly Specht.
From his loss, a movement to stop the spread of heroin was born known as NKY Hates Heroin (http://nkyhatesheroin.com/). They’ve been working to raise awareness of the problem since Nicholas died.
"Because of his loss, lives are being saved. We've had total strangers come up to us who knew Nicholas, and said, 'Because of Nicholas, I'm here today,’” Specht said.
The Specht family was just a small group of dozens at the Life Learning
Center in Covington on Monday to hear what’s being done to fight the epidemic, and the staggering numbers of overdoses in the community.
The five St. Elizabeth emergency rooms in Northern Kentucky report heroin overdose numbers that won't stop climbing.
“Last year, St. E. was reporting two overdoses a day, on average. This year, it's up to three overdoses a day,” said Jim Thaxton, who coordinates the Heroin Impact Response Task Force in Northern Kentucky.
Heroin overdoses reported through the end of last month eclipse numbers for all of 2014. So far in 2015, 846 ODs have been reported compared the 745 for all of 2014. The numbers have increased steadily since 2011.
On the flip side, overdose numbers increased from 110 in August of thisyear, to 94 in September – the latest month reported by St. Elizabeth Emergency Departments.
"If you don't think you know someone on heroin, you do. You just don't know you know them yet,” Specht said.
As for needle exchange programs, one launched in Pendleton County in September. Representatives with the Northern Kentucky Health Department told FOX19 NOW on Monday that as far as local programs go, those are ready to launch pending approval from local cities and counties.
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