- Wayne Baker Staff Writer
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine told more than 220 first responders at an addiction forum Tuesday that it will take a grassroots effort from every community to successfully combat opiate and heroin problems that he called the worse he has ever seen.
Unintentional drug overdose deaths in 2014 stood at 2,531, while in 2015 the number jumped to 3,050, according to data from the Ohio Department of Health.
Those figures coincided with what Butler County Coroner Dr. Lisa Mannix reported to the Journal-News. She stated that 189 people died from drug overdoses in 2015 in Butler County, and 149, or 79 percent, were heroin-related — including heroin, fentanyl or a combination of both.
“This is not just a problem in urban cities anymore,” DeWine said. “This has stretched out to rural areas and the suburbs.”
The “Mexican Drug Cartel now has the perfect business model,” DeWine said. “They sell heroin for $15 or give it away to get a person hooked and then that habit grows to be an $1,000 a day habit.”
Getting churches involved and grassroots campaigns along with age appropriate drug education programs for students are some of the solutions that might prove effective in combating the state’s addiction problem, according to the attorney general.
“We need to have education from K-12 that is age appropriate and scientifically based to address this problem because what we have now is hit or miss,” he said. “People need to be involved with this effort and we have to get the churches involved. The communities have to rise up and say they are tired of seeing family, neighbors and friends die from addiction.”
DeWine said his office has a six-person team that will come to communities and share what other places have successfully put in place to fight addiction and overdose problems.