Aggressive pill enforcement pushes young people to heroin

More than 600 people in Ohio died from heroin overdoses last year.
MCT Regional News
Jan 7, 2014

In the ‘60s, the focus was on LSD, marijuana, turning on and tuning out.

In the ‘70s, it was cocaine at the discothèque. The ’80s meant crack cocaine abuse, that urban nemesis that led Nancy Reagan to plead: “Say no to drugs.”

The ‘90s saw a rise in methamphetamine and homemade potions. Americans learned the drug could be made with similar household products.

As the century turned, opiate use, such as prescription painkillers and heroin, came into vogue. Abuse rose, and the government and media are reacting.

To many, the opiate/heroin plague is simply a shift in America’s attention on drug abuse.

Efforts to stamp out pill abuse simply led to the increased popularity of heroin, a dark drug that has been lurking in the background during all these decades.

Heroin use is far from an urban problem. It’s as accessible as it is enticing. Its grip, relentless. Its allure reaches young adults, some teens, from the poor to the wealthy.

Authorities estimate that 11 people die every week in Ohio from heroin overdoses.

“The death and devastation wreaked by heroin is a crisis. And it is not just a crisis for some. Heroin is everyone’s problem,” said Steven Dettelbach, the U.S. Attorney for northern Ohio. “Heroin is everyone’s problem. It is our brothers and sisters who are dying, our aunts and uncles, and yes, our children.”

Dettelbach made the comments during a recent area summit of community leaders, law enforcement and medical professionals. The startling rise in heroin-related deaths has brought the drug to the forefront of discussion.

Back from the dead

The truth is, the death toll could be much higher, if not for the intervention of paramedics.

In Akron, paramedics have used a drug called Narcan 45 times for 250 reported overdose cases. Rescue workers say the drug essentially reverses the effects of heroin and brings people “back from the dead.”

“Keep in mind that this is truly a lifesaving drug, but some of our patients may have been past the point of resuscitation and Narcan would not have been administered at all,” said Capt. Joseph Natko, who oversees the city’s EMS bureau.

“I’d have to agree with the ‘epidemic’ statement. We now see heroin use in a much larger scale than we’ve ever seen it before.”

The rash of deaths statewide — 606 in Ohio last year — and the four-year growth of use has prompted Attorney General Mike DeWine to declare heroin use an epidemic.

To combat the problem, DeWine has created a unit of investigators, lawyers and drug abuse specialists to deal with issues associated with heroin use. Gov. John Kasich created the Governor’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team, which in October released stricter guideline recommendations for physicians prescribing pain meds.

DeWine’s office has been involved in revoking the licenses of more than two dozen doctors and pharmacists for improperly prescribing pain meds. In addition, criminal charges have resulted in convictions against 15 doctors, pharmacists and traffickers.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, per capita distribution of opiate pain meds has risen from seven in 1997 to 67 in 2011. The number of opiate-related deaths rose 447 percent, from 327 in 1999 to 1,765 in 2011.

“Communities have to wake up. If you don’t think you have a problem, you are probably wrong,” said DeWine. “Local law enforcement understands the problem. As I have traveled the state, over and over sheriffs and police and coroners tell me how bad it is.

“Unfortunately, there are people out there who don’t believe heroin is really in their communities. They don’t want to believe that this can be them — that this can be their child who is addicted or who is going to die from a heroin overdose. The numbers tell a different story.”

One thread continues to arise from the ashes of the heroin plague.

Government intervention in the painkiller market has made heroin all the more popular. You hear it from users, and you hear it from counselors.

Still, more changes are in the offing to regulate prescription painkillers. To many, drugs like Vicodin and Percocet are a gateway to heroin.

Suburban crisis

“They’re willing to do anything for it,” said Uniontown Police Chief Harold Britt. “Heroin is an epidemic right now.”

The chief speaks from experience.

He’s heard of young girls prostituting themselves for the drug.

Others, he said, are breaking into homes and cars.

He recently conducted an investigation into the death of a 20-year-old resident who was found unconscious by family members. The man had overdosed a day after being released from jail Oct. 31.

For nearly the past decade, federal and state authorities targeted unscrupulous doctors who prescribed painkillers to more and more patients.

News stories document pill doctors in Florida feeding a pipeline of painkillers into Ohio by way of Kentucky and West Virginia. Similar pain clinics popped up everywhere.

Southern Ohio was especially popular to the pill-mill trade.

In reaction, law enforcement began focusing on doctors who over-prescribe. They also changed the formulas of some narcotic painkillers, making it impossible for a pill to be crushed.

The government reaction squeezed the opiate market, and the laws of supply and demand took over. Fewer pills on the streets meant higher prices. As a result, users in greater numbers embraced heroin, a faster-acting opiate that costs far less than a pill and works better.

The addiction to heroin, however, is far greater and more intense. So, too, are the withdrawals and the potential for overdose.

Younger victims

More deaths of young people have caught the attention of state attorneys, federal prosecutors and police departments large and small.

In little Brimfield Township, Police Chief David Oliver laments the heroin death of a 19-year-old former high school cheerleader as a symbol of the devastating effects of the drugs.

Years ago, Oliver worked as an undercover narcotics agent. He’s seen tremendous change in the heroin market: users as young as 19 and as old as 60.

Users often steal from family members and then target others, stealing and pawning what they can in order to buy more. The high, he said, is often gone. Instead, users keep abusing in order to avoid the dire withdrawal symptoms.

“The drug is far more prevalent and dangerous than any other time I have seen in my career,” he said. “The heroin I bought undercover in 1999 for $100 is about $20 right now.

“We are seeing a lot more supply and lower prices, which unfortunately causes more use because of price and availability. The prices to get high on heroin today can be compared to crack cocaine prices in that drug’s prime.”

———

By Phil Trexler - Akron Beacon Journal (MCT)

©2014 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

Visit the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) at www.ohio.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Comments

WASPISBACK

The only way to stop it is like all the other deadly drugs. When they all die from overdoses it will thin the herd. I've had family friends robbed because of heroin heads. As far as I'm concerned, let them die. Less we have to pay for and worry about if we're going to get robbed. They made the choice. They made their "coffin", let them "sleep" in it. Let the bleeding hearts begin!

Kottage Kat

Wish I had an answer. Reading this article, Huron Co. Is not alone. It truly is an epidemic.

itsanewwayoflife

Waspisback you are a piece of work. You obviously do not understand the DISEASE of addiction do you. We need to be in the schools educating the kids about all the cons of opiate abuse. But in your perfect eagle creek world nothing like that could ever happen to anyone you care for could it.

WASPISBACK

Really? So it is a disease, huh? How about this you bleeding heart idiot..They made a choice..they made a choice to stick a needle in their arm..a choice to rob..a choice to make the "mistake" they made. Ya, I'll educate the kids...I'd show them how being dope sick is cool, how the dead guy in the gutter is cool, how the AIDS victim from using dirty needle is cool..Let them get the Darwin Award and then us honest people won't have to worry. Take your disease talk BS to someone else. And yes- the crap is in my family. And if he dies from using then it's his fault-period. You are one that will just let the crap go on because "they need help". No. They need locked up away from society so I can sleep better at night or they need to die. Period. Go away. You bug me.

Contango

D*mn those unintended consequences!

Push on one side of a balloon and it merely bulges in another direction.

The U.S. has a tremendous number of drug laws, yet we are the greatest consumers of them in the world.

Prohibition does not work!

TrollingMotors

Now you know that you can thank Pfizer for this.

Legal Heroin is still Heroin errr I mean opiates

go ahead and look at the stats, there is a strong correlation between the two

Korrupttown88

Oh here we go again with the it's a disease bullcrap. Do you not understand that these junkies don't want to stop using? They need to go away. Forever. Being a junkie is a choice. No one forced the needle in there arm or the pill up there nose.

rgt

While the "heard is thining" these users will also transmit diseases like hep c and hiv. When the "closet junkie" has sex with waspisback child grandchild niece or nephew and waspisback gene pool will finally be thinned. There is no answer. However in my opinion there are things to be done to A. Save lives while the drug runs it's main stream course. Pass out narcan to addicts police ems parents friends and children 18+ of the addicted to save them until the treatment of recovery can take effect. B. Have a place where the users can be informed on overdose procedures. C. Provide clean needles so the users arnt passing HIV to each other and even non users with intercourse. Needles and narcan are very cheap! VERY! Lives are worth a dollar or two for the meds. Needles can be as cheap as pennies. Like crack like LSD like all the other drug trends this too will pass. It's up to the community to be forward thinking to save as many lives as possible while this epidemic runs it's course.

WASPISBACK

So your stupid answer is it's ok for them to get clean needles, ect., but then they can still have sex with the piece of crap that doesn't. So now MY gene pool gets thinned because of a junky dope addict thief ****head. Wow..good answer **mba**. Do you not understand they don't care about overdose procedures? Do you not get the fact when 1 OD's they all want that dope because it's "so much better"? I say flood the streets with 100% pure smack and let them die. Then I don't have to worry about your junky kid infecting mine. Your a piece of work.. You need to go away, too. You bug me.

WASPISBACK

And by the way- It's "The HERD is THINNING"..

starryeyes83

heroin was big in the 60's 70's and 80's .. it's never gone away. It's always been here. Wait till the krokidil starts coming in - if it isn't here in Ohio, yet. I t will be.

It's hard to feel sorry for those who choose to do that crap to themselves. I don't believe for one minute it's a disease.

Diseases are out of your control. Drugs are not.

If you choose to load that gun - it will go off.

rgt

And yes it is a disease Korrupttown. It's an illness of the mind and the drink or drug is obsessed about. Just like OCD is a disease the user can rarely control it. The person with OCD needs to step on every crack in the floor. If you don't allow them to the second you turn your back they will do it. They can't move on with the day until the obsession is met. The same is true for the addict. Until they use (do there obsession) they will not stop thinking about it. This is why people who spend time in jail get out and use then die because of an over dose. Please understand these are truly sick people just as any other debilitating condition or disease. Ignorance will only complicate the issue at hand. People are breaking the law to obtain a chemical that is killing them. It's insanity at its finest and if that's not a disease empty the psycwards and see what happens.

WASPISBACK

NO- OCD is NOT a choice..CANCER is NOT a choice..WEED, ACHOHOL, LSD, HEROIN, etc., IS A CHOICE. If you CHOOSE to do something that is going to kill you and it does-OH WELL-YOU made the choice. Stop talking it's a disease. When you get a real disease you have NO control over then you have something to say. Until then you and all the other "It's a disease" people need to go away. You bug me.

Windy

If they did not take their very first hit, snort, or whatever, they would not have this "disease". It is the junkie's OWN fault that they are addicted. They should have said "NO" before their first time trying it.

ladydye_5

That FIRST time it is a CHOICE. IT is NOT a disease. A disease you have no control over. Cancer, MS, Lou Gehrig's THOSE are diseases. They made a choice to try it, they did it. For whatever reason it was something THEY DID.

Dr. Information

I've never known someone with ocd to od, rob or kill or hurt anyone else because of their issue. Horrible comparison.

rgt

I'm glad I'm so thought provocing! People with OCD won't rob cheat or steal. If they felt as sick as someone in withdrawals did when they couldn't do their OCD acts or if such acts cost a lot if money I be they would rob and steal.
So addicts are casualties of a doctor receiving kick backs for writing certain name brand Rx. Some never had a problem until they met Dr X. The rest are more than likely in some sort of emotional pain and are self medicating because their doc never found a Rx that helped them. Something like80% of addicts have mental health issues. Many of which have never been diagnosed. Addiction can effect anyone. You'll understand that thinning the HERD is ignorant when that person is someone you love.
Have a read and get your learn on!
Addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to the addicted individual and to those around him or her. Alt-hough the initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, the brain changes that occur over time challenge an addicted person’s self control and hamper his or her ability to resist intense impulses to take drugs.
http://www.drugabuse.gov/publica...
"The AMA endorses the proposition that drug dependencies, including alcoholism, are diseases and that their treatment is a legitimate part of medical practice."
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/D...

happyfeet64

Thank you,rgt for having a brain and using it.I lived in a 61/2 year hell of my own making. It is not a choice, it is a disease-a disease of self hatred,a disease of detachment,a disease of indescribable pain. I grew up in a upper middle class home with 2 parents, am very well educated and had a strong code of morals, values and ethics. I also have another disease called bipolar disorder type 1. I had my first psychotic break through at the age of 13, when I tried to commit suicide. You see back then(1976), there's was no diagnosis made and no real understanding of bipolar. Turning to drugs when you're mentally ill is a given-anything to stop the pain, the voices that push you to a level of hell that you can't even imagine. I tried heroin for the first time when I was 26, and had no intention of becoming an addict, none of us do. When you see MRIs,CAT scans and other diagnostictests that prove scientifically that addiction it's just as much a disease as any other, then maybe you'll think twice. But,I seriously doubt it cuz gouge perfectly happy in your little bubble of hatred and ignorance. And for the second time in a well,I will say it one more time-all of you sound like a bunch of Nazis accusing the Jews of everything that goes wrong in this world.And to think my children have to associate with any of you out how you are teaching your own your truly ignorant and judgemental ways.Sad. By the way,I was once one of those that you believe should be killed or left to die,I have 18 years clean-count them 18, shoo go f***yourselves,I made it out of my hell!

Korrupttown88

All the heroin and pill junkies need to disappear for good. People work hard for there belongings and all these low life druggies do is rob everyone and make there own family's lives a living hell. They need to do society a favor and take an eternal nap. Because they don't want to get off the crap!

itsanewwayoflife

Rgt thank you for being the smartest person commenting on this issue your right about everything you've said wasp is made because some addict stole his copper he's prolly the alcoholic that beats his wife and touches his daughter but addicts are so bad and need to die has a landscaped front yard with a backyars full of cans...

Unique perspect...

One definition of disease is: a serious problem in society or with a group of people. The heroin epidemic has a common derivative: one's initial choice to do/try it - so everyone is supposed to be mistake free in a society that offers a street advertised, readily accessible means of stress relief [heroin]? Obviously people continue to make bad choices that escalade into a life altering scenarios that we all pay for emotionally and financially. This is sad in the world today, and I am proud that I have not had to contend with addicted loved ones - just a few - now former - friends.

Epidemic, disease, call it bananas or whatever you would like - it is a problem that costs us all! Anything can be abused, the root cause lies near the cause of why people want the high in the first place - alcohol sales thrive and is legal. Many people turn to alcohol for similar reasons others turn to drugs.

itsanewwayoflife

Without insurance or money how are these low life junkies supposed to get help to get off of the drips korrupt? There is nothing around her for them and once there in full blown addiction a lot of them do want help but there's no help to receive you people really have no hearts and do understand you should keep your comments to yourselves.

Unique perspect...

Many other communities offer a means of help - you need to have those addicted want to seek it and follow what the help offers = the challenging part of it all. By spending monies to put a service out there, the approach in to making it affective must be strategized carefully and thoughtfully first or it will turn into a quick waste.

ladydye_5

They want help? That is why they are REPEAT offenders? That is why they are sent to rehab OVER and OVER? Their family sends them to rehab, the judge sends them to rehab. Yet when they are interviewed or asked they say they LIKE their life and want to get high? But you say they WANT help? Ok, who do we believe?

starryeyes83

A heart is an internal organ which pumps blood. That is it's ONLY function. It has no emotional attachment or function.

Korrupttown88

Shut up you liberal bleeding heart. Why don't you let the theiving junkies live with you and rob you blind and provide them with counseling. They don't want counseling or help! I'm being realistic and your living in a fantasy world about junkies that want help lol. Get real.

wowman

As I read these comments I'm thinking that a lot of you might have never seen this up close and personal well I have and you think oh their "junkies" well you all need to open up your eyes because there are people that you think are NOT a "junkie" and never would be just might be.. Like the Doctor or Lawyer the nurse that just took care of you at your local Dr's office.. It's everywhere and you cant always tell who is and who isn't. There is a saying that if you don't have something nice to say then don't say anything at all.. This is what's wrong with this country NO COMPASSION for any one anymore.. No matter what the reason might be as to why a person started using, there is a reason and maybe that is the "disease". Way too many labels and name calling..

1974tillnow

As a long time user. I feel important to say. The disease theory taught by aa na etc. Or the it's a choice theory.... does it matter? It's here. Find your way of dealing with it. Whether it be ccw, getting involved to help or doing nothing at all. Doesn't matter. This is America. You have a choice.....Lol. After seven rehabs, one prison number and numerous stays at various county jails. I'm clean. I'm done. It's over for me. However aa, rehab those stays that I spoke of all brought me here. I believe if any one of those things were done out of order or just skipped. I would not be here today. I do not attend aa any more and have not attended in a long time. I believe... plain and simple... I just needed to grow up. I made not one bad choice but numerous bad choices. Is it a disease? Right now I don't care. I should care. But right now my focus is to make a series of good choices to turn this mess around. After some time now this mess looks very manageable. I might ad that it doesn't get any easier. Because truth of the matter is, Its hard to be a big boy by that I mean grow up. It is Much easier to not care and to escape by using mass quantities of legal and illegal substances. Growing up is the hardest thing I have ever done. It would have been easier to do as a young kid. Rather than to do it now. What is my point? Get involved by doing one of the choices I have listed above. Every one plays a part in an "addicts" life. From the kid that bags your groceries to the president of the United States. The problems are hidden and are with in all of us. But they also need fixed.

WASPISBACK

I am proud of you for being a recovering addict. I will only say that it is not my responsibility to hold your hand while "you grow up". You made the choice to use and you made the choice to stop using. I hope that all the people you hurt, stole from, used, etc., you have went to each of them to apologize for your stupidity at that time. If not, you have not grown, you have just found a way to hide very well. congratulations on becoming a hopefully righteous citizen that will now follow society rules as should be done. I commend you. Keep up the hard work. You became an addict by the things you have done. Now you are becoming a man/woman because of choices you make now. Stay safe.

1974tillnow

Go back and reread my post. I did not acknowledge or respond to wasp. It was just my two cents on the subject. You seem very defensive and opinionated. It sure raises many questions. I wish I had time to sit and post all day. You know.... like yourself. FYI ignorance is bliss. Now let me help you out with that little bit of info. Usually once the whole truth is revealed you realize you were happier being clueless. Btw thanks for acknowledging my hard work. As if I needed it lol...

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