Opioid crisis worsening in the Tennessee Valley

The Madison County Coroner told WAAY 31 that in 2017, one person died every five days of an overdose. That's 73 people just in Madison County. Three out of five of those were because of fentanyl.

Posted: Oct. 2, 2018 10:49 PM
Updated: Oct. 3, 2018 10:27 AM

WAAY 31 spoke with a recovering addict who is now the director of a sober living facility in Huntsville about the worsening opioid crisis.

He ranked the problem as an 8 on a scale of 1-10 and told us it impacts more people than you may think.

"Everybody, I think, has a family member that has either od'd, or struggling daily with addiction," said Russell Glass, director of The Pathfinder.

Russell Glass is a recovering heroin addict. He's been clean for 19 years and now runs The Pathfinder to help others get and stay clean. The trend he's seeing locally mirrors the one nationally, with opioid use getting worse.

He says when addicts hear that someone overdosed on heroin that was laced with fentanyl, they're drawn to it, causing more overdose deaths.

The Madison County Coroner told WAAY 31 in 2017, one person died every five days of an overdose. That's 73 people just in Madison County. Three out of five of those were because of fentanyl.

Today the U.S. Attorney General's office announced federal charges for a Huntsville woman.

Ashley Smith is facing 20 years to life for allegedly selling fentanyl that killed someone.

"The top of the chain. That's who needs to do the prison term in my opinion. Most folks on the street are selling to support their habit. They don't use, they get sick. I have no idea about this lady; where she fits into the scheme of things. Folks that are making a killing selling drugs need to be in prison," said Glass.

Putting dealers behind bars is part of the solution, but Glass says more money needs to be given to the other side of the solution.

"Personally, I feel that we need more money going into prevention and treatment," said Glass.

The Huntsville Police Department did not respond to our questions today about what is being done to crack down on heroin specifically.

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