Council member: Can city stop responding to overdoses?

A council member in Middletown, Ohio, asked if the city could simply stop responding to overdose calls to both save money and send a message:

“I want to send a message to the world that you don’t want to come to Middletown to overdose because someone might not come with Narcan and save your life,” said council member Dan Picard, the Hamilton Journal-News reported. “We need to put a fear about overdosing in Middletown.”

The city is seeing a dramatic increase in drug overdoses amid a regional heroin epidemic. It’s set to have twice as many overdoses in 2017 than the city did in 2016, the newspaper reported.

The epidemic is putting a massive strain on public safety departments, the city jail, and the city’s overall budget.

Middletown is expected to spend $100,000 this year on Narcan, the drug that reverses an overdose, City Manager Doug Adkins said. The city budgeted for about $10,000.

To help offset the costs of Narcan and overdose-related EMS runs, Picard suggested having a person who overdoses complete community service work. He said arresting them only increases the cost to the taxpayers.

Adkins noted that most of the people who overdose in Middletown are not residents of the city, the newspaper reported.

Middletown has a population of over 48,000 and is located in southwest Ohio.