East Liverpool struggles to keep up with numerous overdoses

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EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio (WYTV) – Within 20 miles of East Liverpool, there were 11 overdoses in 24 hours, including five in the city during an eight-hour shift Wednesday.

Two people had to be revived with six doses of naloxone each, while another pair received four doses.

“Yesterday, they didn’t have any more ambulances because everybody’s doing a different OD,” said East Liverpool Police Chief John Lane.

This latest batch of overdoses in the area shows the problem is still around and not going away.

People who overdose wind up getting treated at East Liverpool City Hospital, which is expecting to see 35,000 emergency room patients this year. That total is impacted by overdose epidemics.

“We’re close to seeing, on average, at least one a day,” said ER doctor Tom Morando.

The viral pictures from two weeks ago with a 4-year-old in a car and the grandparents passed out, show how these addictions are affecting entire families.

The children are completely helpless and then left completely needing help when the adults can’t take care of them. In Ohio, 14,000 children are under protective care by the state.

The monthly handout at the East Liverpool Way Station took place on Thursday. It’s been noticing more families coming through for food and assistance, pinpointing the cause to a lack of jobs and transportation.

The Way Station has a program which readies people for finding a job. It is like every other group in the city, hoping that the heroin problem is solved soon.

“I love this city and there are a lot of great people from all income backgrounds,” said Vicki Ritterspach with the Way Station. “I really think if we could work together, those who have means and those who don’t, we could come up with some solutions that work.”

Finding solutions is difficult in a city where less than 25 percent of the population pays income tax and many more qualify for government assistance.

“It knows no social barrier, no economic barrier. It doesn’t discriminate against age or race, we see them here all ages,” Morando said.

The hospital put together a program two years ago for solutions to these types of problems, but it can’t handle them alone. The City of East Liverpool has to come up with some ways to make sure recovery is part of the process.

Lane says there isn’t currently a treatment program through the jail. There is a three-day treatment program through the hospital, but he doubts it will be very effective.

“Three days is not going to solve a heroin addiction.”

Last week, the city asked the governor’s office for help with the overdose problem, and Lane says he sensed interest.

Posters drawn by kids about staying away from drugs line the walls at city hall, but they’re a year old. Lane wants to be teaching in kindergarten through 12th grade every year, believing it’s a good place to start.

“We need resource. It seems you make one arrest and tie this guy down, there’s someone else stepping in,” he said. “It seems like, in our area, our biggest problems are people from out-of-town.”

In town, the city is just like every other place dealing with this problem — struggling to cover the city within a strict budget. There’s just no way to pinpoint a place to start.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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