While overdose deaths are trending down across the state, the numbers tell a different story in Madison County.
Through Aug. 1, there have been 32 confirmed overdoses and five more pending, according to Madison County Coroner Jimmy Cornelison.
"I don't think we've changed much of anything. I really don't. Look at my numbers," he told The Register on Friday.
The confirmed number of overdoses nearly matches 2016 when there were 33 overdose deaths in the county. That increased to 40 in 2017 and 42 last year.
While drug-related deaths continue to trend up in Madison County, Madison County EMS Director Carlos Coyle said EMS has continued to administered fewer doses of Narcan this year than previous years.
Coyle said from Jan. 1 through June 30, EMS administered 155 doses to 136 patients. Last year, 208 doses were administered to 176 patients in that same time frame. Those numbers were a slight decrease from 2018 when 261 doses were administered to 179 patients.
However, the 2019 numbers come with two caveats as treatment has changed and who is given Narcan has changed, Coyle said.
He said first responders are using intravenous naloxone, rather than intranasal to reverse opioid overdoses, which wakes them up slowly and is more controllable than intranasal. Coyle added with the rise in mixing drugs, once EMS reverses the effects of the opioid, patients could be high on another drug, such as meth, and become combative.
Previously, Narcan was given to cardiac arrest patients, but that is no longer standard.
"We absolutely are (still making runs)," Coyle said.
Both Coyle and Cornelison said the drug crisis is an uphill battle and prevention is key.
"It's still here and taking lives, ruining families and communities. Addiction is a very difficult thing to reverse," Coyle said.
Jonathan Greene is the editor of The Register; follow him on Twitter @jgreeneRR.