Opioid addiction has been identified as a national crisis as fatal overdose rates soar, but in one of the most shocking examples yet of the drugs power, two addiction counselors at a rehab clinic tasked with helping others recover both died of fatal overdoses this week, authorities announced.
The two counselors were found unresponsive in two separate bathrooms by the recovering addicts they were tasked with supervising on May 22, Chester County DA Tom Hogan said. Drugs found near their bodies have tested positive for fentanyl.
The counselors worked at the Freedom Ridge Recovery Lodge in West Brandywine, a recovery home and halfway house for addicts which had two counselors and six men as residents. The residents who discovered them administered Narcan nasal spray to the counselors unsuccessfully, according to Hogan’s office, before calling 911. First responders pronounced the counselors dead at the scene. Neither has been identified.
“If anybody is wondering how bad the opioid epidemic has become, this case is a frightening example,” Hogan said. “The staff members in charge of supervising recovering addicts succumbed to their own addiction and died of opioid overdoses. Opioids are a monster that is slowly consuming our population.”
Hogan’s office said heroin baggies and needles were found near both bodies. The baggies, stamped with the “Superman” logo and a “Danger/Skull & Crossbones” logo, were positive for fentanyl, according to preliminary tests.
“Anyone who sees baggies in the area with the Superman or Danger logo must be warned to stay away from those drugs,” Hogan said in a statement. “They appear to be heroin laced with fentanyl and are likely to kill anybody who uses them. We will not even let law enforcement handle them without special precautions because of the extreme danger of death or injury.”
“Nobody is immune,” Chester County Department of Drugs and Alcohol director Vince Brown said in a statement. “These deaths are tragic examples of the impact that the heroin and opioid epidemic continues to have on our communities … But it is important to know that help is available and that recovery, from any addiction, is possible and happens every day.”
This incident brings the number of drug-related deaths in Chester County in 2017 to at least 45. As of April 2017, the latest month for which statistics were available, there had been 43 drug-related deaths in the county, according to Chester County coroner David Dougherty.