The date of August 15, 2016 marks a low point for Huntington. That day, 28 people took an overdose of heroin that was mixed with the powerful opioids, fentanyl and carfentanil. Two people died.
History became national and became the epitome of the depth of the opiate epidemic. It also served as a catalyst for Huntington and Cabell County officials, who were already battling the drug problem, to approach solutions in a similar way to laser.
A year and a half later, the community may point to some success.  -Overdoses fell by 20 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to the same period of the previous year.
-The greatest improvement occurred in the last seven months, as overdoses were halved in the last seven months.  -The use of NARCAN to revive addicts with overdoses decreased 50 percent in the first quarter of this year compared with the first quarter of 2017. Violent crime fell by 10 percent during the same period.
Huntington Mayor Steve Williams is almost not ready to declare victory in the war on drugs, but he hopes that "all we are doing is pushing in all directions," he said Monday on Talkline. "We feel we are on the right path."
One of the main reasons for success can be found in the new Rapid Response Teams or QRT. These are teams formed by law enforcement, medical care and treatment professionals who personally visit individuals within 72 hours of their overdose to encourage them to get help.
"When we go in and talk to someone about trying to get help and we will go In treatment, most of the time, there is someone else who says," Can I go too? ", Williams told me.
The QRT they have only been working since last December, but they are already having an impact, so now about one third of the addicts who visited the QRT have entered treatment.
One of the keys to dealing with the opiate crisis is to discover what works and repeat it in other communities The Huntington QRT was modeled after one in Cincinnati Last week, the state Department of Health and Human Resources awarded a grant of $ 263,000 to the Presta Center to establish a QRT program in the Valley of Kanawha
Williams is encouraged by the significant progress in his community. "We have won some battles. We are a long way from winning the war, but these trends are going in the right direction. "
Caution is advised here One of the reasons why the number of Huntington overdoses is improving is that they were at epidemic levels. , the commitment of the community to attack the problem of drugs on multiple fronts is beginning to bear fruit.