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Pastor calls on city health department to tackle spike in drug overdoses

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Posted at 5:00 PM, Jul 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-29 19:16:33-04

CANTON, Ohio — A pair of overdose alerts is prompting the Canton community to act.

Right now, the health department said the city is on track once again to lose a record number of people to drug overdoses in 2022.

"We have to make available whatever is possible to allow that people have at least a chance to survive until emergency people can get there," said Pastor Raphael Cox, Sunrise Global Ministries.

Not everyone is getting that chance.

"Quite often unfortunately, too often," said Cox.

And the list of people Cox knows who died from a drug overdose continues to grow. The two alerts this month in Canton prompted the pastor to ask for help.

"You can't put a price tag on life. We have to utilize all the tools in the toolbelt," said Cox.

Cox partnered with the Canton City Public Health Department to host a pop-up event along the side of the road downtown.

"We know people use around here. This is one of the zip codes where we did have overdose deaths recently," Madisyn Richards, outreach specialist, Canton City Public Health.

The goal was to get the overdose-reversing drug Narcan into the hands of as many people as possible.

"I do believe we are on trend for another record setting year," said Michelle Streetman, Canton City Public Health.

Streetman said drugs laced with fentanyl is not the only driver of overdose deaths.

"Here recently, we are hearing more activity of counterfeit pressed pills in the area," said Streetman.

So, the Percocet someone thinks they have is actually pure fentanyl.

"The more people we have equipped with the proper resources the better chance we have to save lives," said Streetman.

The messaging around Narcan is evolving, from if you use opioids you should carry it, to if you’re actively using any substance have it available to now everyone should carry the overdose-reversing drug.

"You never know where you could be and encounter someone experiencing an overdose," said Streetman.

That was the case of Madisyn Richards, who used the life-saving medication on a friend.

"At the time I didn't know anything about Narcan, I just knew where it was in the house and thank goodness it's kind of foolproof at this point to use, because it's very easy to use, and thank goodness it is because I would not have known what to do," said Richards.