Heroin overdoses down in Sarasota County

Posted at 8:01 PM, Jan 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-29 10:37:17-05

Heroin overdoses are down drastically in Sarasota County since last July.

The Sarasota County Sheriff's office saw 24 heroin overdose in July 2015 compared to just four in January 2016.

However, deputies said that does not mean the problem is going away.

This comes after Sarasota Deputy Jimmy Adams recently responded to a 911 call reporting a person suffering from a drug overdose who was very near death.

Through some quick thinking, Adams injected that person's upper thigh with Naloxone, a drug that helps reopen the airways of overdose victims. That person is now expected to make a full recovery.

Deputies said Adams saved that person's life but so did the person who called 911.

"We can't help if we're not notified," said Sgt. Donny Kennard of the Pharmaceutical Diversion Investigative Unit. "So if someone is not calling 911, we're not able to utilize something like that."

They say people should not be afraid to call on a drug overdose case, although many times, they are.

"A lot of times folks are concerned about being arrested or are concerned about additional drugs being in the home, that someone may be charged with that." Kennard said.

Kennard said Florida's Good Samaritan law, while not bullet-proof, helps people who call 911 from low-level drug arrests in the case of an overdose situation.

First Step of Sarasota runs a drug treatment program in Sarasota County and has been a huge resource to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office. 

P.J. Brooks of First Step of Sarasota, said to keep overdose deaths down, it's critical loved ones of addicts always call 911 in the event of an overdose.

"Here are your options," Brooks said. "I don't, and maybe they're dead. Or I do, and maybe they're mad at me, but they are alive to be mad at me."

He said one of the main signs of a drug overdose is what doctors call the "death snore." It is described as a deep, rattling snore. Often, when you try and wake the person, they will not stir. That's when 911 is needed and Naloxone can be administered.

Naloxone is also now available by prescription for loved ones to keep on hand in the event of an overdose, Brooks said.

He said he knows loved ones of addicts are in a tough spot.

"They're watching a loved one slowly kill themselves in a sense," he said.

But it's more important to save a loved one's life.