Detox centers overcrowded by heroin crisis, the recent overdose epidemic has caused a long waitlist

Posted at 6:13 PM, Jul 27, 2016

An alarming number of heroin overdoses continue to plague Northeast Ohio. 

Akron, seeing the brunt of it recently with their total number climbing up now to 576 this year so far. Those overdoses are severely impacting the centers trying to help. 

Today Newsnet5's Lauren Wilson spoke with the Summit County's ADM board who, through the crisis center, helps place individuals seeking help in treatment facilities, but the recent overdose epidemic in the city has caused many of them to have to wait. 

"It is growing exponentially over the last couple of years at least," said Doug Smith, Chief Clinical Officer and Medical Director of the Summit County ADM Board about the amount of overdoses in the area. 

With hundreds needing help, he and other officials are finding it a challenge to keep up with the demand. 

"We are constantly assessing literally hourly, we're working on these weight last to figure out how do we help get someone in when we need to as fast as possible, we're driving those numbers down, but at the same time the epidemic is getting worse and that's where the difficulty is," he said. 

From January to June alone, Akron paramedics have responded to nearly 320 heroin overdose calls, just this month, there's been 236. 

"This month we've been hit with Carfentinil, [it's] extremely potent probably something on the order of a thousand times more potent than heroin," said Smith. 

With those addicts needing immediate help, Smith said they've had to put others on a waiting list, sometimes up to 7 days to get emergency detox treatment. 

"Trying to make sure they're removing people through faster, we have decreased wait last. So we are actually making headway ideally of course we like to turn the switch and there be no way at all." 

And the problem isn't just in Akron, it's leaking over to other cities like the Edna House in Cleveland who's wait list is anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks for their 6 month residential program. 

"I feel grateful that I still have a chance to live," said Shannon Rush, a current resident in the treatment home for women. She's a lucky one, just recently able to receive treatment after waiting for to get in. 

"I got here on June 17, and I waited two months in jail to come here," she said. 

Starting her treatment and hoping for the best, she explained she worries about her friends who are out there who need help just like her. 

"Honestly if I could take everyone out there every woman and bring her in this house 1, 2, 3 times however many it takes I would. All I can say is give it a shot." 

Summit County's ADM board is encouraging folks in the city to use their outpatient facilities which right now have no wait time and in the meantime they're going to try and find ways to add to the other facilities for folks to go to.