Cost of opioid-reversal drug adding up for local law enforcement

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WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) – With an increasing number of overdoses and sometimes multiple rounds of the opioid-reversal drug naloxone being used, law enforcement says the cost of naloxone kits is adding up.

Local police departments have been using the kits for a few years but now, they’re going through one a day in some places.

“Just in Warren City alone, our Warren City Police Department has used 59 kits so far this year,” said Kathy Parrilla with the Trumbull County Health Department.

On Saturday, Warren Police gave two doses of naloxone to a woman but it wasn’t enough. EMS had to give her five more rounds.

The previous weekend, police found a woman hanging out of her trunk in a Taco Bell parking lot. She was revived with 16 doses of naloxone while her two children sat in the backseat.

“This type of addiction to heroin is so bad, they’re actually turning blue and stopping breathing,” said Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene.

He describes an incident from last week where a man overdosed three times within a four-day period. He was brought back twice, but couldn’t be revived the third time.

“They’re being brought back and saved, and that doesn’t seem like that’s enough to scare them to stop using,” Greene said.

Parrilla says addiction is a disease that changes the chemistry in the brain.

“It’s not something people wake up every day and say, ‘This is how I want to feel every single day, I want to crave this drug. I can’t be without this drug, otherwise I’ll get physically ill.’ No one wants to feel like that.”

The price tag for naloxone is anywhere from $60 to $90, but funding to pay for it comes from multiple sources.

Ohio’s two-year budget has $1 million marked for funding, which breaks down to $500,000 each year. The money goes to the state’s Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Every county health department can apply for money and is guaranteed a minimum of $1,800 to buy kits for law enforcement.

In the last fiscal year, Mahoning County received $8,641, Columbiana County got $3,912 and Trumbull received $7,629. Trumbull has already used most of its money this year, and funding only started a few months ago.

“We have funding from Trumbull Memorial Health Foundation and they have given us money two years in a row. This is our second year with Project DAWN [Deaths Avoided With Naloxone],” Parilla said.

County mental health and recovery boards also help out with funding, and Sheriff Greene uses money from drug seizures for the kits.

“Can’t think of a better expenditure then to buy the naloxone kits out of that fund,” he said.

People might see giving someone multiple rounds of naloxone as a way of enabling the person to keep using, but Parrilla doesn’t see it that way.

“Maybe that fifth time is when that person will decide to change their life.”

There are plenty of resources for people struggling with addiction, including:

CVS started selling naloxone in its stores in March. The Trumbull County Health Department also sells naloxone kits and offers training on how to use them. Family members and friends who are interested can call the department at 330-675-2590 and select option 3.

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