Middletown, Ohio, has been fighting an ever-growing heroine epidemic. The city has tried new and inventive ways to tackle the problem in an effort to take back their streets, but to little avail. So, Middletown’s city council has purposed a new, albeit controversial, plan. The plan consists of a “three strike system” that would essentially let addicts die.
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The plan, which city council member Dan Picard created, allows an addict three chances to get clean. After an addict has been given Narcan, a drug used to partially or completely reverse an opioid overdose, twice, the addict would then be expected to pay back the medical cost of the drug and emergency treatments by participating in community service.
The number of overdoes have doubled in the last year, according to WLWT. In 2016, the total number of overdoses was 532. Not even halfway through 2017, the city has reported a record high 577 overdoses.
The amount of community service required will depend on the amount of money it cost the city for the emergency response. Seems fair enough, right? Well, the controversial aspect of the “three strike system” comes after an addict has been revived twice by the city through the administration of Narcan.
Picard stated in a meeting: “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 has made it clear that this may not fix the city’s rampant drug problem, but it will save the city money. Narcan treatments cost Middletown over $11,000 last year. This year the amount has almost tripled, and is currently sitting at $30,000.
Middleton’s Fire Department explained why his responders would not roll out if the dispatcher determines that this is the third time they’ve been called to treat an addict. According to Fire Chief Paul Lolli, he and his men are required “by law” to give Narcan to an overdosing patient if they arrive on scene.
If the fire department is never dispatched, then they wouldn’t be required to administer the costly drug.
Lolli said, “We are faced with stress on our services, particularly the EMS services where we can do six to eight opioid overdose runs a day.” Lolli is, however, opposed to Picard’s plan, stating “it’s our job to save patients, regardless of cost.”
It’s currently unclear if this proposal will ever be put into place, but the plan has undoubtedly stirred up debate in what has become a national epidemic.