The debate over how to fight the heroin epidemic should not include discussion over who lives and who dies, a member of the Hamilton County Heroin Task Force said Friday.
A controversy about Narcan and how often it should be administered - and whether law enforcement should even carry it - shows a very real, current clash in approach: traditional policing and treatment versus more unusual measures.
Narcan is the brand name for naloxone, the drug first responders use to revive overdose victims.
"We've got to re-frame our debates....There is so much anger around this and I get the anger and I get the frustration. There is some validity in some of these discussions," Synan said in a live interview Friday on FOX19 NOW Morning News.
"The role of law enforcement has changed. We are used to putting handcuffs on people and enforcing laws. But because this is an epidemic, because of the numbers, it's forced us to into now we're activists. We're drug counselors. We are taking people to treatment. We're using Narcan.
"We are sitting in the United States of America and it disturbs me that we're are talking about who should live and who should die," he said.
When the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition started two years ago, 20 to 25 people were overdosing on the opioid weekly, and one to two people were dying from it, Synan said.
Now, the county sees about 50-70 overdoses a week with four to five deaths a week on average, he said.
The coalition is made up of law enforcement officials in local, state and federal agencies; treatment providers, public health and government officials and others.
Together, they are constantly working on solutions.
"We can't say we are winning the war. As long as there is death and as long as there's high number of overdoses, we can't say we are wining the war," Synan said.
But he remains optimistic they will find solutions.
"We have this coalition. We have a group of people and now we are talking about these debates," Synan said. "Some of them are painful, Some of them I don't like, some of them I don't agree with.
"But at least now it's in the forefront and we are getting it out in the open. And that's part of the goal.
"We want the public to be involved and we want to hear these discussions and we want to find solutions, and I am optimistic."
Synan stuck around after his on-air interview and answered a wide range of questions about the heroin epidemic on Facebook Live.
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