Free program offered to save lives of those overdosing from fentanyl-laced cocaine

Fentanyl-laced cocaine a growing problem in African American community

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Cocaine laced with fentanyl continues to be a serious problem in Hamilton County, and it appears to be hitting one group harder than others.

“It’s been increasing,” Hamilton County Health Commissioner Tim Ingram says of the rise in overdose deaths among African Americans from fentanyl-laced cocaine. “The trend has been going up for the last four years.”

Ingram’s data backs up his point.

In 2015, he explains, of the 300 overdose deaths at area hospitals, 52 were African Americans. That’s 18 percent.

In 2018, of 357 overdose deaths at hospitals, 78 were African Americans—that’s 22 percent. And in 2019, of 240 overdose deaths through September, 59 were African Americans—that’s 25 percent.

“And we know,” Ingram said, “that many, most of those deaths were cocaine-fentanyl mixed substances.”

Most of the deaths, he adds, are men between 45 and 58.

That why Ingram is trying to get the message out, because so many African American users are overdosing and dying, he suspects without being aware that their cocaine has been mixed with a deadly substance.

Jamahal Boyd, Sr. is the CEO of The Crossroads Center in Corryville. He says she’s aware of the growing problem of fentanyl-laced cocaine thanks to his organization’s work with people in drug rehab.

Boyd calls the situation a “crisis,” and he’s fighting back with Narcan, training his staff to use it and also educating the community about its ability to save lives.

“No one wants to read a pamphlet when you are in an overdose crisis,” Boyd said, “and you need to use these agents to help a client or somebody in need.”

The idea is always to have Narcan nearby. It’s an idea Ingram agrees with.

“We want to encourage the African American community to have Narcan available, readily available,” he said. “And we will provide it at no cost.”

If you want to get free Narcan, as well as drug test strips, you can do so at the Hamilton County Exchange program, which operates a Narcan distribution program.

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