The COVID-19 pandemic put a pause and disruption on the social activities of most citizens, organizations and companies, and included in this disruption are also the operations of drug suppliers and drug trafficking rings, who are experiencing supply chain interruptions. This has caused a major life threatening setback in most cities as it portrays a situation of an ensuing cycle of feast and famine and creates a potentially deadly environment for individuals dealing with addictions, as they may lose their tolerance and become more vulnerable to overdose.
The unavailability of sterile equipment to be used by these individuals also poses a threat of a possible increase in the of number HIV and Hepatitis C patients in the nearest future, due to the unsafe environments these users find themselves in and their sharing of already used syringes amongst themselves.
Due to the fact that traditional treatment methods of addiction such as inpatient rehab or house calls are not always helpful at a safe social distance, anti-addiction groups, drug treatment centers and health organizations are trying new ways to help users so as to avoid potential overdoes and possible increase in the number of persons infected with HIV or hepatitis C. One of these new methods is a text line which reads, “health workers put Narcan in the mail“, opened by the Hamilton County Health Department. Drug users are provided with Narcan and safe tools such as sterile injection supplies to help with their addictions and prevent them from contracting other new illnesses.
Hamilton County Public Health is making Narcan (Naloxone) available to the public for free, through the Narcan distribution collaborative (NDC) and also distributing Narcan by appointment in the Hamilton County public health clinic located at 184 E. McMillan St. Cincinnati, OH 45219. The Narcan is being put in the mail depending on the situation of the user and the user is given directions to health sites where sterile injection supplies are being kept. These sites provide a healthy environment in which people can use drugs in the presence of health counselors and provides the users with clean and sterile injections.
The Newtown police chief, Tom Synan who is head of the Hamilton County Addiction Coalition, expressed his worries about the drop of Hamilton County’s number of overdose into single digits, he said, “When you see single-digit numbers, you know there is something probably going on with the drug supply,” he admits he knows it could be good news, fewer people using, more users getting clean, but it could also be a sign of something much worse coming his way.
The Hamilton County Public Health provides interested individuals with trainings on Project DAWN (Deaths Avoided With Naloxone), which is a community-based overdose education and Naloxone distribution program, educating them on topics such as; recognizing the signs and symptoms of overdose, distinguishing between different types of overdose, performing rescue breathing, calling emergency medical services and administering intranasal Naloxone.
Mark Perlman of Withdrawalinfo.com agrees with this new method citing the 50,042 opioid deaths in 2019 and countless new infections from sharing or using dirty needles. He said, “with an average of 1,000 Americans dying from opioid-related overdoses per week, this is a big step in helping people afflicted with addiction”. He continued, “ensuring that active addicts have access to the equipment they need to be as health-conscious as possible, will inevitably lead to fewer infections, lower health costs and, the hope, a lower overdose death rate”.