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An Ohio community is seeking to combat the nation’s growing epidemic of opioid use after experiencing eighteen deaths to overdosing on them within a seven-day period. The high number of deaths in such a short amount of time has forced local health groups to issue an alert to the public.

The South Side Substance Abuse Solutions Committee is just one of many grass-roots level groups seeking to help with the opioid crises. In the South Side Substance Abuse Solutions Committee’s case, it was distributing Narcan and fentanyl-testing stripes; fentanyl is a fatal opioid that has been present in various street drugs within the Columbus area.

The South Side Substance Abuse Solutions Committee is among many of the grass-roots groups that gave away Narcan and strips to test for fentanyl, an often deadly opioid showing up in street drugs in Columbus. Atticus Green, a commissioner for SSSASC, suspects that the spike in opioid-related deaths can be traced back to a deadly batch of fentanyl within the city. Nathan Whitford, a volunteer with the committee believes that it is crucial to inform the public on how to handle the sort of emergency such an epidemic carries.

A county coroner reported that five of the 18 recent deaths occurred within a single day. Residents of Franklin County’s south side see the opioid epidemic’s effect on a first-hand basis, reporting that hurried fire trucks are a common sight as the fire department is called to collect people who have succumbed to a drug overdose. Lieutenant Matthew Parrish, of Columbus’ Fire Division, urged that community involvement would play a crucial role in overcoming the epidemic.

Parrish’s comments are part of the reason why volunteer groups like SSSASC have risen in prominence. Not only do these groups feel a calling to help their fellow man, but it is hoped that their actions will lead others toward also lending a hand. Whitford remarked that people need to act upon the urge to help and see what they can do for their friends and neighbors, rather than leaving those afflicted to be helped by others.

The coroner’s report recently revealed that fentanyl had not only been mixed in heroin but had also been traced to batches of cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and even various, sundry counterfeits of pill-based medications.