the north face hyvent ‘Drug overdose has no face’
DANVILLE Dying from a drug overdose is not a young person’s disease in Montour County, according to County Coroner Scott Lynn Sr.
The average age from a drug overdose death in the county is 43, he told the Columbia Montour Boroughs Association Thursday night in the Danville municipal building.
With Lynn handling deaths from 27 counties because of the area Geisinger Medical Center covers, he said 80 percent of traffic deaths in North Central Pennsylvania relate to someone having drugs in their system. “Folks I have prosecuted in the criminal justice system, if you saw them in Weis or in Giant, you would have no idea of their problem,” she said.
Lynn said the range of overdose deaths is from an average person to a doctor about 1 and a half years ago who died of a fentanyl overdose. “People coming out of rehab may start using the same amount they had before they went in and their body can’t tolerate it, he said.
The coroner said no place is immune to overdose deaths. A young woman was discovered dead and had been dead for about 12 hours after taking a painkiller while visiting her boyfriend, who was a patient in Geisinger Medical Center, he said.
Mattis said some people don’t report opioid related crimes such as the mother who didn’t want to prosecute after discovering it was her daughter using her credit card. “We do everything we can to prosecute people selling drugs,” she said.
Statewide, there has been an uptick in overdose deaths from fentanyl which is 50 times more powerful than heroin, Mattis said. There is also car fentanyl which is 100 times stronger than fentanyl, she said. “Why smuggle in a trunk of heroin when you can smuggle in a vial,” she said.
Saying you can’t punish the addiction out of someone, she said drug court in the two counties involves a three year program and a short period of incarceration.
She didn’t have figures on the success rate since the program hasn’t been around that long. Success can be measured if the person is clean five to 10 years after graduating from the program, she said.
Mattis said the county is working on a grant process for law enforcement to carry Narcan that can bring an opioid overdose back from the brink of death. The drug can also be used to protect police if they are inadvertently exposed to a drug, she said.
In the past few months, friends administered Narcan on a man who overdosed, Lynn said. “The key is if it is used, the person needs to go to the hospital,” he said.
After the man was revived, his friends left and returned later to find him dead, he said. The effects of the drug only last so long and you can’t leave the person alone once the drug is administered, he said.