Expert: Heroin epidemic a ‘genocide’ if not stopped

It would be “genocide” if leaders across the country and locally cannot get a handle on the heroin epidemic, said Carol Baden, the Ohio Attorney General’s Community Outreach Specialist.

Baden spoke Monday with members of the Fairfield Opioid Task Force during a meeting that included representatives from the medical and social service fields, police and fire departments, municipal court, and city administration.

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“It would be genocide if the number of people who are addicted to pain pills, or even having problems with pain pills — and that doesn’t include the street drugs — (isn’t reduced),” she said. “We really have to break the cycle of addiction.”

The city of Fairfield is the latest community to start a task force to address the heroin and opioid epidemic that has a stranglehold not only on the country and state, but also Butler County.

In 2015, Butler County had 189 drug overdose deaths, and 79 percent of those deaths (or 149) were heroin related, according to the Butler County Coroner’s office. For the first quarter of 2016, there were 47 drug overdoses, with 74.5 percent of those deaths (or 35) where heroin related.

From 2015 through the first quarter of this year, there were 236 drug overdose deaths, and 184, or 78 percent, were heroin-related deaths, according to the Butler County Coroner’s office.

Over that 15-month span, there were 24 drug overdose deaths in the city of Fairfield, and 16 of those were heroin-related.

“Fairfield is not immune,” said Fairfield police Chief Mike Dickey. “We have almost on a daily basis some interaction with persons that have used heroin.”

Most notably, he said, it’s a medical run when someone has passed out.

Dickey said while this was another meeting talking about the issues, “there’s no doubt” action will emerge.

“I’m of the opinion we have to be a part of a regional, if not a statewide, effort to control this problem,” he said.

And he called it “a coalescing moment” when Baden made it clear this is not a law enforcement problem.

“It’s a medical problem, and a number of services — medical, law enforcement, community support — have to come together if this opiate problem is going to be abated,” he said.

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