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00000174-c556-d691-a376-cdd69e980000Day after day, week after week, the headlines in Northeast Ohio and across much of the country contain news of tragic loss: lives lost to opioids. It’s a problem that knows no bounds: geography, race, gender, level of education or income.The problem took on new urgency this summer as the powerful elephant sedative, Carfentanil, began hitting the streets. First responders armed with their only weapon, the overdose antidote Naloxone, have struggled to keep up with what’s become an overwhelming problem. It’s an issue that’s straining public and social resources. What has become clear is that business as usual is not going to fix the problem.WKSU news has been covering the unfolding crisis. Tuesdays during Morning Edition, the WKSU news team digs even deeper. WKSU reporters will examine what’s led us here and what might be done to turn the tide. Support for Opioids: Turning the Tide in the Crisis comes from Wayne Savings Community Bank, Kent State University Office of Continuing and Distance Education, Hometown Grocery Delivery, Mercy Medical Center, AxessPointe Community Health Center, Community Support Services, Inc., Medina County District Library and Hudson Community First.00000174-c556-d691-a376-cdd69e980001

Stow and Akron Sign On To New Opioid Outreach Program

photo of Jerry Craig
Jerry Craig, executive director of the Summit County ADM Board, says the new outreach program, coupled with the addiction help line, are helping to get overdose victims into treatment.

Summit County says its new program to reach out to people within days of an overdose is getting increasing support from cities within the county.

Since December, the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board has seen several cities create quick response teams consisting of a police officer, paramedic and counselor who will reach out to people within three to five days of an overdose.

Along with working with families, ADM Board Executive Director Jerry Craig says the response teams will try to get victims into treatment, and follow-up to ensure they get to their counseling appointments.

“The teams that are going out to people’s homes are being accepted warmly by the community. Sometimes the people that we’re reaching out to will say, ‘we waited for you because we knew you’d be here.’ In many ways, it’s been a really positive thing in many of our communities.”

Craig adds that the response team idea comes from Colerain Township in southern Ohio, which saw a 30 percent reduction in overdoses and an 80 percent success rate in getting people into treatment once the quick response teams were in place.

“If we could get those kinds of results here in Summit County, I think that would be really good. Now, we’re looking at Akron and Stow going on board next month. And if they come on board, then we’ll have a substantial amount of our community, population-wise, involved. The plan is for us to try to connect with as many communities as will be willing to participate. We’ve not pushed this on any communities; each of these communities has come to us.”

Craig says the additions of Stow and Akron will mean that response teams would be covering about 80 percent of the areas where overdoses occurred in 2016.