Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine called heroin use in the state “the worst epidemic” he has seen in his 45-year career and said it’s impacting “every part of Ohio” from the inner cities to the rural areas.
DeWine appeared Sunday night on “60 Minutes” and this morning on CBS This Morning. Sunday’s segment, titled “Heroin in the Heartland,” featured interviews with DeWine, persons recovering from addiction, and others with perspectives on the heroin crisis.
This morning DeWine called heroin “a scary drug” that has law enforcement officials trying to figure out how to reduce the epidemic.
Last year in Ohio, 750 million pain pills were prescribed in Ohio, and DeWine said 75 percent of those addicted to heroin started with opiates.
DeWine said 50 doctors in Ohio last year lost their licenses because they were over prescribing pain medications.
He also said on average 23 people in Ohio die every week from drug overdoses, though that estimate probably is low.
None of this is new to those living in the Butler County region. The heroin epidemic has been responsible for taking the lives of hundreds of residents, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars and straining medical facilities and public safety departments, said Middletown City Manager Doug Adkins.
Earlier this year, Adkins formed a Heroin Summit that has met numerous times, trying to create strategies to combat heroin use in the region.
Adkins has said he hopes to see heroin-related deaths reduced in the city by this January.
That certainly will be a challenge considering heroin-related deaths are holding steady this year in Middletown and rising throughout the county, according to city health officials and the Butler County Coroner’s Office.
For the first six months of the year, there have been 28 such deaths in the city, and five causes of deaths are pending, said Jackie Phillips, Middletown’s health director. She said there were 55 heroin-related deaths in the city in 2014.
Countywide, there were 85 heroin-related deaths the first six months this year, up from 56 during the same time in 2014, said Martin Schneider, an administrator for the Butler County Coroner’s Office. There were 103 deaths in 2014, he said. At the current rate, there would be 170 this year, an increase of 65 percent.