When the opioid epidemic hit its peak in 2017, community members, first responders and government officials joined forces to find a solution.
More than a year later, we’re taking a look at whether or not that approach is working.
Since 2015, Erie County recorded more than 360 drug-related deaths.
Experts say opioids are largely to blame.
But, those struggling with addiction are not fighting alone.
Changes to policies, laws and treatment all contribute to a potential solution.
Erie resident Katie Beehner will be three-years sober next month, but she knows how these drugs can take control of someone’s life.
“2008 is when I began IV injection of heroin and that was daily use. Up to the point where I had a habit of about 400 dollars a day,” said Beehner.
Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper says she noticed right away when she stepped into office that something had to be done.
She tells us what started a ripple effect was the forward thinking about naloxone.
“We were really one of the first counties in Pennslyvania and the nation to get that into the hands of every first responder,” said Dahlkemper.
The numbers in 2018 are down drastically compared to 2017 and 2016.
However, first responders say life-saving drugs alone are not enough.
“Naloxone and narcan only is effective in an acute emergency. It doesn’t fix the addiction process,” said David Basnak, the Emergycare Operations Manager.
While we may have a grasp on the epidemic, experts say we must be vigilant.
“My fallen friends are leaving an echo of awareness,” said Beehner.