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Holidays prime-time for drug overdoses

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(MERCER COUNTY)- A Mercer County team, known as the Quick Response Team is making sure to reach their goal of reducing overdose deaths in the county.

Stakeholders on the front line in the fight against overdose are troubled by the rise in substance abuse and the death toll continues to rise,

"We just ran two last night. Two unfortunately were fatal," Michael Crowder- EMT, Deputy Chief of Operations said.

The pandemic gets the blame for the rising rate of overdose.

"This has been probably the worst we've seen it especially overdose rates because people are so depressed and feel like they can't get the help they need," Staci Lafferty, the Project Director at Southern Highlands said.

"Just over the past few months, I feel like our fatality rate and the over dose rate has increased so high," Nic Webb, the Founder of The Phoenix House said.

The drug of choice by users in mercer county: Heroine, meth, and the powerful painkiller Fentanyl. Police say drug use is fueling serious crime in the community.

"All of our major crimes is directly linked with drugs. We've got crimes going on because people are moving into the state to come here to participate in the drug trade," Chief deputy Joe Parks with the Mercer County Sheriff's Department.

Major crime and overdose deaths have become routine for emergency responders.

"It's tragic. It's sad. The fact that we've gotta to go talk to their parent, talk to their kids. It's not easy telling that parent or that child that we've done everything we could possibly do it's just not working there's nothing else we have left," Crowder said.

There are resources in mercer county to fight addiction. The pandemic hasn't closed their doors.

"Whenever the pandemic hit, it cut down so many of our resources. When you cut down so many of those resources you don't have the availability to be able to reach everyone that you need to reach. Which has led to the increase of a lot of our overdoses since January and February of this year," Webb said.

The Quick Response Team says Narcan is literally a lifesaver. It's a nasal spray available at most pharmacies that can help reverse an opioid overdose. Parks has a message to those addicts who know they're on the dead-end road of drug addiction.

"Reach out to us. You're a generation that is dying. We're not here to lock you up, we're looking for solutions as much as you want a solution. If you go down the destructive path that you're on there's only one outcome where nobody can turn back," Parks said.

For more resource you can contact: Southern Highlands Community Mental Health Center- 304-431-2869 (Calls received 24-hours a day).

The Phoenix House- Nic Webb: 304-952-7346

Star Connor

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