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’60 Minutes’ Highlights Heroin Epidemic in Ohio

'60 Minutes' Highlights Heroin Epidemic in OhioAuthor: Justin Mckibben

In the past decade heroin use had reportedly jumped over 60% in our country, with overdose death rates skyrocketing and more and more families being ripped apart by the death and destruction it brings with it. Some reports have shown that heroin-related overdoses have nearly quadrupled in recent years; many states are working hard to make overdose antidote resources more available in attempt to keep up, but even in Middle America, the crisis continues to kill.

“60 Minutes” did a report just this past month that took a look at how hard the heart of Ohio had been hit by the epidemic, and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine showed correspondent Bill Whitaker how heroin is gripping his state, from rural towns to wealthy suburbs.

In the rankings, Ohio was listed as number 8 out of 50 states regarding the highest death rate from overdose deaths, and community leaders are now hard pressed to get the word out there as to just how devastating heroin has been, especially to the Capitol City of Columbus, Ohio.

Heroin in Ohio

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine talked to CBS about how pervasive the issue with heroin addiction and Ohio has become, enlightening the news team that he himself had been involved with law enforcement since the 1970’s and that now is the worst epidemic he has ever seen. Preliminary statistics from the Ohio Department of Health showed:

  • A record 2,482 Ohioans died of drug-related deaths in 2014
  • About half of those deaths (1,177) involved heroin

He spoke about how once upon a time, heroin was far too taboo to have the level of impact it has now, even amongst the drug dealers of the areas he worked in as a prosecutor. Now Ohio sees the problem is serious, as Mexican cartels and dealers have made their way into every facet of Ohio life.

Law enforcement drug labs have even seen heroin being pressed and sold disguised in pill form.

The figures from the segment stated that 23 people die every week in Ohio from an overdose, and DeWine says they believe that to be a low number, and that the real average may be even more disastrous.

American View on Drug Policy

While discussing the issue, DeWine talked about how most of law enforcement and the people of these communities now understand that you just cannot “arrest your way out of the problem,”

According to a Pew Research Center Poll of April 2, 2014:

  • Only 26% of Americans believe the government should focus on prosecuting drug users
  • 7% Said they don’t know what should be done
  • An astounding 67% said the government should focus on providing treatment for those addicted

The panel of newscasters and DeWine discussed several factors involved in the epidemic, including related drug use. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, with opiates, the statistics showed:

  • People who use opioid painkillers are 40 times more likely to use heroin
  • People who use cocaine are 15 times more likely to use heroin
  • People who use marijuana are only 3 times more likely

The fact that prescription opiate painkillers are a huge part of this problem is no surprise to anyone. Reports showed that in Ohio, doctors had actually prescribed 750,000,000 pain pills in 2014 alone!

That equals out to 65 pills for every man, woman and child in the entire state!

However, according to DeWine Ohio has actually taken away the medical licenses of over 50 doctors in regards to prescription drug abuse, while actively trying to promote more action in prevention and treatment instead of prosecution and incarceration.

As someone born and raised in Ohio, I just felt it was important to share this and talk about it. The fact that people are taking notice matters. The fact that Narcan and naloxone (the heroin overdose antidote medication) are now being offered without a prescription in Ohio is great. Columbus, Ohio families being trained to administer the antidote is important.

When dealing with substance abuse or addiction in any state as a community, or even on a personal level, it takes some action to make a difference. Hopefully as awareness if brought to Columbus, Ohio more people will take action, and the same can be said for other states all over America.

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