PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB)- Panama City Police were busy Thanksgiving weekend responding to a significantly higher number of drug overdoses than usual.
“When you have that increase in substance use, there’s going to be accidents and overdoses,” said Life Management Adult Services Program Director, Theresa McDonald.
Statistics show that this time of the year, overdoses tend to happen more frequently. With police response to five suspected overdoses over the holiday weekend, it’s more than usual.
“We have a lot of pressures of how holidays should look like, what should be going on and that sort of drives us to be slightly unrealistic and hard on ourselves so then we retreat to our coping skills whether they’re our good coping skills or bad ones,” said McDonald.
However, Panama City police said they’ve seen an increase in these cases in the past year alone, not just during the holiday.
“We’re seeing overdoses on various substances from heroin, fentanyl, all the way to prescription opiates as well too. So it’s a variety of things. It’s not just necessarily one bad batch that’s hitting the street or anything like that,” said Panama City Police Investigative Services Lieutenant, Christopher Edmundson.
Not only can overdosing on drugs be dangerous to the person taking them but also the officers responding, especially when it comes to fentanyl.
“Our officers have been given equipment to protect them, however, if they’re handling an unknown substance or if it’s a substance that’s laced in that, it can be very hazardous and potentially fatal to the officers out there,” said Lt. Edmundson.
Edmundson says when they see an increase they use tools provided by the department to investigate further.
“As we see spikes, we try to use our resources to address those issues as well to figure out where they’re coming from and what’s causing these spikes and how we can best try to get our hands around it,” he said.
A number of factors can contribute to overdosing, especially this time of the year. If you know you struggle with substance abuse, there are local resources that can help, like life management center.
“It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for somebody to give you a hand up or ask for treatment. There are people that are ready and they’re waiting to help you in your recovery,” said McDonald.