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Heroin Epidemic growing in Ohio

Ohio fighting Heroin Problem
Ohio fighting Heroin Problem
Photograph taken by Danielle Coots

Sergeant Mark White of Sugarcreek Township presented an update to the Sugarcreek Township Board Meeting Monday night on the police department’s partnership with Mike DeWine’s office to help fight the Heroin epidemic that plaques the nation.

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“Communities have to wake up. If you don’t think you have a problem, you are probably wrong,” said DeWine in a press release dated November 18, 2013. “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. We know that, at minimum, 606 families across this state were directly impacted in 2012 by a heroin death,” said DeWine.

“We have to fight this epidemic at the grassroots level – community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood,” DeWine continued in his press release. “We have to get mad and say, ‘Enough is enough!’”

Coroners from 47 of the 88 Ohio counties reported a drastic rise of deaths as a result of Heroin over the past four years. In 2010, there were 292 deaths related to Heroin; in 2011 there were 395 and in 2012, the death toll rose to an alarming 606. The totals for 2013 have not been collected as of yet but are expected to have a huge hike as well. These death tolls in 2012 comprised of counties such as Cuyahoga County at 161, Franklin County at 73, Hamilton County at 54 and Montgomery County at 93.

Heroin comes from a chemical produced in the poppy plant, which is mostly grown in Mexico and Afghanistan. Historically, heroin was legally produced and manufactured by Bayer in the 1800’s and sold as a cough suppressant and pain killers. The basic form of heroin is a sister drug to morphine. Of course, the use for the drug today has been exaggerated. Heroin can now be found in the form of powder which can be packaged in clear capsules. It can be snorted, smoked or injected. The paraphernalia normally consists of needles, spoons and lighters.

“There are usually two outcomes to a person’s life that is using heroin,” Sergeant White said. “The majority of them will end up dead or a few of them will end up going to prison. Because of this, the Ohio Attorney General’s office is trying to be proactive in their approach and trying to get communities to come together and work through this and find out what is going to take to get the heroin out off the streets.”

It has been said that once a person first tries heroin, the first high is like nothing they will ever experience- it hooks them. The person keeps using for hope of that first feeling, which never comes. Shortly after, they have already become an addict. They continue using the drug just to keep from getting sick. It’s no longer about the high but just to “feel normal” or what is considered their new normal. “So the addict resorts to stealing, they resort to robbing people to keep buying it,” Sergeant White continued. “We don’t see it here in our community as we do in transient people that come to our community to steal – that is where we are seeing it here.”

The sergeant contributes the rise of cases of heroin addicts to the fact that it is a cheap drug and it is high addictive. “They will do anything to get that feeling from their first high. They will steal from their families, they will steal from stores, they will hurt people for it and thank God, we don’t have that problem in our community like they are experiencing in Dayton or larger cities,” Sergeant White said.

“What we experience here is the theft from our retail stores. The majority of addicts that are being arrested for shoplifting are heroin addicts that are going into store and grabbing items that can be sold quickly.” Chief Brown added. “We have not had any problems with home robberies because they know they can go to the stores and get stuff quickly.”

Chief Brown asked for the public’s help. “If you see something suspicious, call the police. If you see someone in your neighborhood that doesn’t look right, don’t watch them for twenty minutes, call the police right away. Don’t ever be embarrassed about calling. We will get there quickly and we will speak with them and find out why they are there. Most people do not get offended by us asking them. But, please call the police right away if you see anything.”

Sergeant White urges citizens to do what Nancy Reagan campaigned long ago but still holds try, “Just say no.”

For more information regarding the campaign against Heroin or to report suspicious activity, contact the Sugarcreek Township police department.

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