Local, national officials worry about increase in heroin overdoses, supply of Narcan

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the Lao National Cultural Hall in Vientiane, Laos, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the Lao National Cultural Hall in Vientiane, Laos, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – The heroin epidemic doesn’t only have local officials worried, the federal government is worried as well.

According to the latest statistics, each year, more Americans are dying from drug overdoses than traffic accidents, and more than three out of five of these deaths involve an opioid.

“We’re experiencing, normally, a daily overdose. Very recently it’s been an overdose per shift, so sometimes three or more in a single day,” said Nile Police Department’s Captain John Marshall.

On Friday, a couple overdosed outside of a Dollar General with an 8-year-old child in the back seat.

Another overdose case in East Liverpool ended up gaining national attention. That story showed pictures of a 4-year-old boy in the back seat of a car while his grandmother and another person were passed out.

One of the most recent heroin overdoses in the Valley happened in Niles on Saturday. According to police, 21-year-old Joseph Harvath blacked out behind the wheel on Route 422 near Walgreens.

“When officers and medics responded, they resuscitated him with Narcan and he was sent to the hospital and charged with drug abuse,” Marshall said.

Anytime Narcan is used, it reverses an overdose. Officers think this Niles overdose was related to heroin.

First responders using Narcan is becoming more common, but police worry it’s enabling users.

“Sooner or later we are going to encounter some problem with the supply of Narcan. I don’t see how we can continue operating at this level of use and just still have enough of it to continue using it as frequently as it’s being used,” Marshall said.

This arrest comes just as Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week is set to kick off Monday nationwide.

“I call upon all Americans to observe this week with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities that raise awareness about the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic,” President Barack Obama said.

Obama made a proclamation on Friday calling on Congress to approve $1.1 billion in new funding to fight the epidemic, but it hasn’t been approved yet.

According to Obama, this new investment would build on the steps that have already been taken to expand overdose prevention strategies and increase access to Narcan.

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