NewsLocal News


New Charlotte County initiatives to fight record number of overdoses

Posted at 1:16 AM, Oct 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 11:27:05-04

CHARLOTTE COUNTY — Charlotte Behavioral Health Care says opioid overdoses are at an all-time high in Charlotte County.

That’s why it’s partnering with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office on several new initiatives to try to combat the growing problem.

On November 6th, Charlotte Behavioral Health Care has organized a Narcan distribution at the Charlotte County Family Services Center. Narcan is a drug you give to someone who is overdosing on opioids that could save their life.

They plan to give the drug out for free to anyone who wants it, but the non-profit is also partnering with the Sheriff’s Office starting this week on a new program called IRIS.

IRIS stands for Integrated Response to Intervention and Support. We talked with Kelly Decker, the new IRIS team supervisor. She says they sends teams out to help people experiencing mental health or drug-related crises.

“Right now, it’s consisting of a law enforcement deputy and a master’s level clinician, and they respond to mental health calls in the community," said Decker.

The Sheriff’s Office says those calls are coming in more than ever. So far this year, Charlotte County deputies have responded to 230 overdoses. Of those, 181 were for opioid overdoses, and 29 were fatal.

“As COVID has gone through, overdoses have gone up," said Diane Ramseyer, the Executive Director of Drug Free Charlotte County.

Ramseyer is helping promote the first ever Narcan distribution through Charlotte Behavioral Health Care.

“It’s not a bad idea for most households to carry Narcan. You know the thing with Narcan is there is no side effect for doing it. If you do it and the person isn’t experiencing an overdose, there’s no harm in that," said Ramseyer.

Decker says the IRIS program and the Narcan distribution aren’t going to solve the opioid problem, but she hopes they can at least change the upward trend in overdoses.

“This is something that’s in our community, it’s not going away, and it’s saying that we want to provide a life-saving apparatus for somebody," said Decker.

The Narcan distribution will be taking place from 10:00 a.m. to noon in the lobby of the Charlotte County Family Services Center on November 6th.

The Sheriff’s Office also has a program where, if you are looking for help getting clean, they will take you to Charlotte Behavioral Health care to detox, and will even cover the cost if you can’t afford it.