Heroin epidemic infects Dayton

 

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Dayton has become an epicenter for heroin, resulting in many deaths. According to an April 2015 press release, the Ohio Department of Health cited that “Heroin-related deaths increased in 2013, significantly surpassing prescription opiates among unintentional overdose deaths. Heroin overdose deaths rose from 697 in 2012 to 983 in 2013.” Illustration by Jason Otis

Montgomery county has become an epicenter for heroin use in the United States.

In Montgomery County, heroin-related deaths have skyrocketed 225 percent since 2011. Last year, the county reported 127 fatal heroin overdoses — one of the highest rates in the nation, according to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Last school year I attended a meeting with Phil Plummer, the sheriff of Montgomery County, where he talked about the mexican drug cartel,” Joan Bline said. “He talked about how Montgomery County has been hit especially hard with heroin because of the Interstate 75 and Interstate 70 intersection.”

Originally, in the 1970’s, painkillers were used more than heroin; however, painkillers are a gateway drug for heroin. In fact, the National Institute of Drug Abuse reported that 1 in 15 people that take non-prescribed painkillers will try heroin within 10 years.

“Much has been written about the over prescription of opiate pain killers and subsequent crackdown on ‘pill mills’ that led those addicted to opiate pain medications to switch to street heroin,” Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl said.

Bline knows how heroin affects the body and why it is so addictive.

“Heroin stresses brain cells and with repeated use; those cells can become burned out,” Bline said. “[Heroin] is an opioid, so the brain gets used to the euphoric rush and once the user keeps using the drug, the brain gets used to the rush causing intense cravings for the drug.”

Heroin abuse is associated with a number of serious health conditions, including fatal overdose, spontaneous abortion, and infectious diseases like hepatitis and HIV according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Since the drug is dangerous, different organizations try to combat the drug through education.

We work to control heroin use through education and interdiction,” D.A.R.E Officer George Williams said.  “[Oakwood Public Safety Department] works hard to be visible and vigilant on the streets of our city.”

By Nick Hensley

hensley.nick@oakwoodschools.org

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