As U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) is urging action on his bill, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, to address the heroin epidemic in Ohio, Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware says heroin has become the predominant drug problem locally as well
“Heroin has become more prevalent because it is easier and cheaper to get than the opiate prescriptions. Nationally, there is a renewed emphasis on responsible prescribing of opioids. There is renewed emphasis by medical professionals on the steps in the pain management process, and renewed efforts to curb doctor shopping across state lines,” Ware said.
He said those efforts are making it much harder to gain access to prescription opioids.
“The coordination and collaboration between local, state, and federal partners from both law enforcement, legislators, and medical professions has significantly curbed not only the amount of prescription drugs on the streets of our communities, but reduced the illicit use and abuse of prescription opioids,” Ware said. “Some have argued that it is becoming more difficult for those with legitimate pain management needs to get access to the medication they need. That is why the medical profession has worked to redefine how doctors treat chronic pain in a way that reduces the likelihood of over prescribing or increasing the risks of dependency and addiction. When the necessary steps are taken, those with legitimate needs will receive proper treatment.”
Ware said one of the major side effects of curbing the abuse of prescription opioids is that those addicted will resort to the use of heroin, as will those who engage in experimental use of heroin and other street drugs. The difference with Heroin is that the potency is not consistent and it is often mixed with other substances such as Fentanyl, creating a much more desired high, but a much more deadly concentration, according to Ware.
“Heroin is much cheaper and easily accessible all across the nation. It has indeed become the drug of choice here and in many cities across the country. Leadership in many states are adapting to this change in the drug environment and adapting new approaches,” Ware said. “We must continue to work across all disciplines to both prevent drug abuse, but to also attack the risk factors that lead to the use of these dealt drugs. We must continue to improve our mental health services, youth education and mentoring, and rehabilitation efforts through addiction services.”
Portman told the members of the media on a conference call Thursday, the state of Ohio is losing 20 people per week to the heroin epidemic.
On Thursday, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine led a statewide emergency meeting – “Ideas that Work – Fighting the Drug Epidemic in Ohio” – to help leaders in Ohio’s counties combat the drug epidemic in our state.
“Ohio is facing the worst drug epidemic in my lifetime,” DeWine said. “The human toll, the increased crime, and the overall community impact of this epidemic are devastating. We must work together to find – and share – effective solutions.”
Nearly 800 attendees who represent sheriff’s offices, police departments, state and federal investigative agencies, emergency medical services groups, public safety directors, county coroners, treatment providers, probation and parole leaders, addiction and mental health experts, prosecutors and judges attended the conference to hear about innovating programs and ideas that are working and resources that are available.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.
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