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DEA360 programs hope to combat the drug problem in central Ohio

Fifteen people died in three days in suspected drug overdoses over the weekend, according to the Franklin County Coroner.

Fifteen people died in three days in suspected drug overdoses over the weekend, according to the Franklin County Coroner.

Overdoses were up for the first quarter of the year as well. The Drug Enforcement Agency is bringing a program to Central Ohio that aims to get help for those in need.

“Most cities are starting to see a spike in overdoses, said Assistance Special Agent in Charge, Mauricio Jimenez.

At a time when most of us are focused on the corona virus, its impacts, and protests for social justice, more Ohians are dying from overdoses.

“We want to be a part of the solution,” Jimenez said.

According to the Franklin County Coroner's Office, there was a nearly 75 percent increase in drug overdose deaths in January 2020, compared to the previous January. If you think that's alarming, look at February; there was a nearly 120 percent increase from the previous February. All before COVID 19 shut-downs.

“Because of how opioids has effected central and southern Ohio. It was important to bring it back to show the community that we are here for them,” Jimenez said.

The drug enforcement agency has selected central Ohio as the next DEA360 community. It's a program the DEA has had for five years now, making central Ohio the third location in the state.

“It's a three-pronged approach. It's law enforcement, it's diversion of pharmaceuticals, and community outreach part of it,” Jimenez explained.

The DEA will work with RREACT, Project Fort and other non-profit and faith based agencies to get addicts the help they need to get clean. They will also have youth programs, and a youth dance program to prevent kids from trying drugs.

“We are also in the communities to do the best we can to make sure the communities rise. It's not just going out to arrest people, it's not just putting people in jail,” Jimenez said.

As drug overdose deaths continue to increase, the DEA is hoping this program, which will bring resources and awareness to the area, will make a lasting impact.

“If we can save one person, one child, one family, then that's the perfect step,” Jimenez said.

The Franklin County coroner's office says the first quarter of the year saw a 55 percent jump in overdose death's from the year before.

The DEA360 program will officially kick off this fall, they are making some changes because of covid19 concerns.