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Huntington mayor on Cabell County drug overdose decline: ‘We feel we are on the right track.’

CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. — Huntington Mayor Steve Williams is crediting Cabell County’s Quick Response Teams — in part — with reported declines in county drug overdoses.

However, he said, it’s only one step of many taken over the past three years to address an epidemic.

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams

“Everything that we are doing is putting pressure in every direction,” Williams said. “We feel that we are on the right track.”

The numbers reflect that assertion.

In the first three months of 2018, overdose totals in Cabell County were down 36 percent compared with the same time in 2017, according to health officials.

It was a continuation of a decline that started in September 2017, a reversal of an upward trend dating back two years.

In all, overdose totals have fallen in six of the past seven months in Cabell County.

Cabell County EMS is now averaging 3.2 overdoses per day, compared with an average of 5.3 overdoses per day during the first nine months of 2017 which was the highest point on records dating back to 2014.

The Quick Response Teams or QRTs launched in Huntington in December with help from federal grant funding — one of the first such programs in the entire United States.

The teams are made up of medical care providers, law enforcement officers, recovery and treatment professionals and university researchers who personally respond within 72 hours of a reported overdose.

From January to March of this year, Williams said about a third of those contacted had entered recovery programs.

“When we do go in and talk to someone about trying to be able to receive some help to go into treatment, more often then not, there’s somebody else that’s there that’s saying ‘Can I go too?'”

Community involvement, Williams said, has also helped turn the tide along with the increased availability of naloxone, a decline in violence, treatment additions and other steps.

“We’ve won some battles,” Williams said of the numbers during an appearance on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline.” “We’re a long way from winning the war, but these trends are going in the right direction.”

Other West Virginia community leaders are paying attention.

The state Department of Health and Human Resources recently provided a more than $260,000 grant for a QRT program, run through Prestera Center, in the Kanawha Valley.

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