Editorial: Is a '1 OD per customer' Narcan strategy appropriate?

DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - You've probably heard a lot about the opioid crisis in northeast Ohio, and I know a lot of you still don't care. It doesn't affect you, no one you know has this problem, yeah, yeah, yeah.


In Middletown, Ohio, between Cincinnati and Columbus, the emergency responders are spending a ton of time -- and money -- on overdose calls. According to one council member, they spent more than $1 million on overdoses last year, and they simply can't afford it. So now they are looking at taking a drastic step: one overdose per customer.

Once someone has been revived, they have to work off their debt to the city, or the next time, medics won't respond to the call.

Now this would conflict with current law that requires first responders treat a patient, unless they're conscious and mentally capable of refusing treatment. I don't know what the right thing to do is. It seems difficult to envision caregivers passing on helping a person in need. But the argument that Narcan -- the drug used to save overdose victims -- is enabling drug addicts to do this over and over is probably true, and what we don't know is how many lives have been lost while emergency responders are busy on calls with repeat overdose victims.

This issue absolutely lit up our Facebook page this past week, with more than 1,000 reactions and 400 comments (and a lot of good points made along the way).

Again, I'm not sure what the solution is, but I do know this: if you don't think this problem is impacting you, you might think differently if emergency responders are out on overdose calls while your loved ones need help.

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