Butler County Sheriff Won't Let Deputies Carry Narcan in the Epicenter of Opiate Crisis

[image-1]The Associated Press reports today on the latest unexpected move in Ohio's ongoing and worsening opiate addiction crisis. In Butler County, which rests between twin epicenters Cincinnati and Dayton, sheriff's deputies are not allowed to carry the overdose-reversing drug Narcan.

It's a safety thing, Sheriff Richard Jones told the AP, saying that "people can become hostile and violent after being revived with Narcan," to quote the news agency.

The Journal of Emergency Medical Services writes:

"Violent and aggressive behavior following Narcan administration is uncommon but possible. Behavioral outbursts are most often related to confusion, sudden awakening, immediate narcotic withdrawal or the actions of other concomitantly ingested drugs now unopposed by the narcotic effect. This is a terrifying situation for the patient, not to mention the EMS provider."

Butler County saw 192 overdose deaths last year. Emergency crews there use Narcan, and access to the drug is publicly available, though it's hard not to wonder what the death toll would be under different county sheriff policies.

It's worth mentioning also that Butler County recently picked up another opiate crisis headline in the Washington Post: "One politician’s solution to the overdose problem: Let addicts die." That would be Middletown City Councilman Dan Picard, who advocates a three-strike policy on Narcan use.

By all accounts, the crisis — and the number of dead bodies — is becoming grimmer by the month in 2017. Cincinnati's Hamilton County, right next door to Butler, is staring down another record year: more deaths, more overdoses, more Narcan injections.

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Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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