Responding to drug overdoses costs money, and a councilman in an Ohio City suggested a way to solve this. His controversial proposal is that if a drug addict keeps overdosing, the city will no longer dispatch people to save his life.
Middletown City Council member Dan Picard proposed that paramedics would respond to an overdose twice. For each of these, the addict would receive a summon and do community service after treatment.
For the addicts that do not show up in court and do not complete the service, no one will help them if they overdose for the third time.
"If the dispatcher determines that the person who's overdosed is someone who's been part of the program for two previous overdoses and has not completed the community service and has not cooperated in the program, then we wouldn't dispatch," Picard said.
Cost Of Responding To Opioid Overdoses
Picard said that his proposal is not meant to solve the problem of opioid abuse. He said that he was simply concerned that Middletown does not have the money needed to keep treating overdoses.
The Middletown Fire Department said that emergency medical services unit responded to 535 cases of opiate overdose last year. Of these, 77 resulted in death.
Picard said that responding to those calls cost the city more than $1.2 million. For 2017, the Middletown city manager estimates that the cost will be over $2 million. The city is also on track to spend $100,000 on the opiate overdose antidote Narcan used by first responders.
Picard added that a call for a heroin overdose can cost $600 or more. Picard explained that at the rate overdose calls are made, the city will likely run out of funds to keep responding to overdose cases.
"Either we go down the road with my plan, or we don't, and we run out of money," Picard said. "In either scenario, they're not going to get treatment."
Picard's proposal may be controversial, but it highlights the opioid problem that the country faces. The opioid epidemic has gone from bad to worse that librarians now learn to use Narcan so they can revive and save the lives of addicts who overdose.
Ohio is on the forefront of this battle. Overdose deaths become more common in the state. In 2014, Ohio had the second highest number of opioid-related deaths in the United States.
Although the intention of the proposal is not to lower the number of overdoses, Picard is hopeful that the measure may still have an effect on the opioid problems.
Extending The Lives Of Addicts Until The Next Overdose
Some think that the use of Narcan even enable addicts to perform repeat mistakes. Maine Governor Paul LePage earlier said that naloxone does not really save lives but rather extend the lives of drug addicts until the next overdose.
A man in Dayton, Ohio, has already been revived by the police with naloxone 20 times.
"We've Narcan'd the same guy 20 times," Dayton police Major Brian Johns said. "There has to be some sort of mechanism or place for people like that. If you're not going to get help, we're going to require you to get some sort of treatment going. Because that is a waste of police resources."