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Overdoses spiking in Pasco County amid COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 4:35 PM, Aug 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-27 17:36:58-04

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — Less than a year ago, Josephine Wolf’s opioid addiction almost killed her.

“I was on the verge of going into heart failure," said Wolf.

But she says a dose of Narcan, the drug used to reverse effects of an overdose, saved her life.

“I’m very blessed to be here today," said Wolf.

Now, Josphine is managing the Good Connections Thrift Store in New Port Richey and getting help from GRACE House.

Rachel Starostin runs the transitional living nonprofit and says people with addiction issues are struggling during this COVID-19 crisis.

“We have a lot of people relapsing. Fear of losing their jobs. Having no income. Being isolated," said Starosin.

Pasco County is averaging about 140 overdoes a month since the pandemic started in March.

Almost triple the amount from a year ago, 37 people died in May alone and about half the overdoses are from heroin and Fentanyl.

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According to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, in 2019 between March and July, there were 319 overdoses, in which PSCO members deployed 79 units of Naloxone.

In 2020 between March and July, there were 694 overdoses, in which PSCO members deployed 198 units of Naloxone.

That’s why Rachel is using a grant to collect thousands of Narcan doses.

She plans to hand them out to those who need it the most.

“People who are actively using. Family members who are actively using," she said.

She hopes that those who can survive an overdose during these difficult times will take advantage of a second chance at life. Just like Josephine.

“You just can’t give up. You have to know as long as your still breathing. There’s still hope. There’s still a chance," said Wolf.

Monday is International Overdose Awareness Day and there are three locations where free Narcan kits will be available.