Drug-related deaths up

By Sally Bell  Staff writer

Drug-related deaths – and drug-related suicides – increased in Venango County in 2016.

The data came Friday out of a year-end report from Venango County Coroner Christina Rugh to the county’s Drug Overdose Task Force.

In 2016, Rugh attended 14 drug-related deaths in Venango County.

“That is up,” she said.

“(Last year) saw an increase in drug-related suicides,” Rugh continued.

Three people out of the 14 who died from drug-related deaths committed suicide, she said.

That finding is different from years past when suicides in Venango County more likely involved guns or hanging, Rugh said.

The coroner further broke down the year-end data:

– The average age of people who overdosed last year in Venango County was 37 years old.

– Of the 14 people who died, eight were men and 6 were women.

– Every person who died had a number of different drugs in their system.

– One person who died had furanyl in their system. Furanyl is a deadly form of fentanyl that is being synthetically produced overseas.

Eight of the 14 people who died were at home with other people, Rugh went on to say. Four people were home alone and two died in motor-vehicle collisions.

People who are overdosing show signs of respiratory depression such as snoring and slow, shallow breathing, the coroner said.

“If you can’t wake them up, you need to call for somebody,” Rugh said.

Narcan (generic name naloxone) can reverse the effects of opioid overdose.

It is available to the general public without a prescription.

Vouchers to receive a free Narcan kit are available through the county.

Recovery personnel recommend that families of addicts keep Narcan kits on hand to use in case of an overdose.

Any pharmacist can provide instruction on using the kits and instructional videos are available online.


Methamphetamine use is back in focus in Venango County.

Use of the drug appeared to wane for a time, but representatives from various county agencies reported Friday that it is back.

“The methamphetamine is coming on strong,” said Ed Powell, parole supervisor.

The drug has seen a resurgence here over the past six to 10 months, Powell went on to say.

The meth is mostly being manufactured in “one-pot” or small-scale batches, he said.

Illegal street methamphetamine is made using a mixture of chemicals, including pseudoephedrine tablets that can be purchased at a drug store.

“Meth has started to resurge again,” said Mike Carothers, a supervisor with the county’s Protective, Intake and Crisis Unit.

“It really seems to be coming back around,” said Marie Plumer, Venango County substance abuse administrator and task force chair.

The Venango County Drug Overdose Task Force meets monthly in Franklin.

The next meeting of the task force is planned for May 12 at 10 a.m. at the human services complex in Franklin.

For more information about substance abuse programs in the county, call Marie Plumer at 432-9163.

Anyone who needs immediate help should call 432-9111.