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Health & Science

Seventeen Overdoses in 24 Hours: Akron's Drug Crisis Increasingly Involves Families

photo of Donna Skoda
TIM RUDELL
/
WKSU
Summit County is trying to deal with a heroin and fentynal crisis.

Update: Information on the suspected role of fentanyl has been added to this story.

There is increasing concern in Akron over a possible new twist in the rising tide of opioid abuse after the city dealt with 17 overdose cases in 24 hours -- including one fatality. 

Officials say a mother, a daughter and perhaps another family member were doing drugs together when they became part of the Akron overdose outbreak. And reports of other drug overdoses involving families have surfaced this year throughout the region.

Summit County Public Health Commissioner Donna Skoda was asked at a news conference if drug abuse is becoming a family affair in Akron.

“It has happened more and more. I don’t have the exact data on that. But yeah, we are seeing that pattern.  ... It is sort of like a new recreational habit, or hobby.”

The city has had 54 fatal overdoses this year alone and an increase of 15 percent in heroin overdose cases.

Skoda says community awareness is the key to dealing with such issues.  And she says people will be able to get information, makes contacts and ask questions about mental health and related issues at  "Bringing Mental Health to Main Street," kicking off  July 22 with a portion of downtown Akron blocked off for booths, and speakers. 

During the same news conference, Akron Police Chief James Nice said the powerful synthetic drug fentanyl was probably involved in some, and perhaps all of the 17 overdose emergencies.  And Assistant Fire Chief Charles Twigg said  the opiate antidote Narcan administered to victims by first responders Tuesday  didn’t work as well as it usually does.  

charles_twigg_narcan.mp3
Twigg on Narcan

“I had a conversation with one of the officers that responded  and he did state that they had to use multiple doses of Narcan.  I believe that we were giving as many as three or four, and then they were needing to give additional doses once they got to the hospital.

For more information on addiction and treatment options contact : Summit County Public Health, or The County of Summit ADM Board.