WOOD COUNTY, OH (WTOL) - Across the country, throughout Ohio and here in the Toledo area, law enforcement and first responders are battling the opioid epidemic.

Wood County is spending the entire week giving thanks and recognition to law enforcement and first responders who are saving lives.

Things started to kick off Monday morning at the Wood County Courthouse.  Police, prosecutors and public health officials all agreed that often they're playing catch up in the case of the opioid epidemic in northwest Ohio.

"We were for the first couple of years taken aback at how strong this opiate addiction hit the country," said Paul Dobson, Wood County Prosecutor. "I think we've now gathered our forces and were coming back quite strong against it."

A major effort by the Wood County Prosecutors office is creating a pathway for those who have overdosed and been revived by law enforcement. The Addiction Response Collaborative, that started five months ago, is a way to help addicts get clean inside of put behind bars.

"We've been involved in 35 incidents of overdoses or referrals to our program," Dobson said. "Even within those, two people who started in that program, overdosed again."

"You go through the program, you successfully complete the treatment and you stay clean, we can withhold those charges," said Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn, Wood County. "But if you don't you're going to go to jail."

The sheriff said more and more people are choosing to go through the ARC program than go to jail and detox there. He added that this is a new reality for law enforcement.

"If I would have known when I first started my career that I would be carrying Narcan in my pocket as part of my uniform, part of what I carry every day, I wouldn't have believed that even 10 years ago," said Sheriff Wasylyshyn.