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Accidental Drug Overdose Deaths Continue To Climb

The scope of unintentional overdose deaths in Montgomery County has been recognized for some time. In 2010, when the Poison Death Review process was initiated, Montgomery County led the state in the rate of unintentional overdose cases.

Dayton officials say in spite of efforts to lower the rate of accidental drug overdose deaths in the Miami Valley, the numbers are still climbing.

In Montgomery County, unintentional drug overdose deaths increased 63 percent from just two years ago—from 226 deaths in 2013 to 264 in 2014.  Heroin overdoses climbed 226 percent from 2010 to 2014.         

Montgomery County Health Commissioner Jeffrey Cooper says programs like prescription drug drop off and others are helping but the low cost of drugs like heroin and other addictive opiates are continue to hammer communities around the country.

"Any strategy on it's own is certainly not enough and so when we look at the full spectrum of what we need to do as a community, certainly prevention plays a key role," Cooper said.

Yet, Cooper says results from prevention efforts aren’t always seen right away, and there are no one-size-fits-all treatment options for hard drug users. 

Until the number of drug overdoses start to fall, area health agencies can only try to improve their coordinated efforts and continue to get their message out.

Helen Jones-Kelley is the Executive Director of Montgomery County Alcohol Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services. In a released statement, she said her agency and others were "running as fast as we can, and we can't seem to overtake the problem."

Adding that, "We will only be successful when we acknowledge that we cannot continue to talk out of both sides of our mouth. If we are serious about eliminating the devastation wreaked by substance use, we have to tackle it from all perspectives. We cannot cherry pick. We have to alert the community to the ill effects of both overuse and misuse of legal prescription drugs as well as their illegal counterparts. It is all substance abuse."

Jerry Kenney was introduced to WYSO by a friend and within a year of first tuning in became an avid listener and supporter. He began volunteering at the station in 1991 and began hosting Alpha Rhythms in February of 1992. Jerry joined the WYSO staff in 2007 as a host of All Things Considered and soon transitioned into hosting Morning Edition. In addition to now hosting All Things Considered, Jerry is the host and producer of WYSO Weekend, WYSO's weekly news and arts magazine. He has also produced several radio dramas for WYSO in collaboration with local theater companies. Jerry has won several Ohio AP awards as well as an award from PRINDI for his work with the WYSO news department. Jerry says that the best part of his job is being able to talk to people in the community and share their experiences with WYSO listeners.