Deadly drug cycle spurs heroin comeback


Officers say, there's a deadly cycle at play in our area's war on drugs.  On one end, officers are trying to get illicit drugs off the streets.  On the other, they're battling illegally obtained prescription drugs that have dangerously similar effects to things like heroine and meth.

With nearly five Ohioans dying each day from accidental overdoses in 2011, Ohio has set a morbid record: more than 1,700 drug-overdose deaths in 2011 alone.

The Ohio Department of Health blames the 14 percent increase over the previous year, on the state's prescription pill epidemic along with heroine abuse.

Recent efforts to slow the prescription pill flow have spurred a deadly side effect.

"Start slowing down the drug availability of your prescription opioids and what we're seeing is an influx in heroin coming in to fill that void," Sergeant Michael Smith with the West Virginia State Police said.

It's toxic cycle that has cost the Tri-state too many lives.

West Virginia had the second highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the nation in 2010 according to the CDC, Kentucky came in sixth, Ohio 10th. 

"The public perceives things like crack and cocaine to be dangerous," Alex Johnson said.  "But when they take a look at a bottle of prescription pills it doesn't pop out at them that this could kill me."
The effects of heroine are alarmingly similar to prescription pain killers and now, according to Sgt. Smith, "Heroine seems to be making a comeback."

Smith says what's fueling the comeback is a dangerous misperception.

Many assume that prescription drugs, made in labs and sold in pharmacies, are safer than drugs bought off the street.  Experts say, that isn't the case, "In fact, they're really the same thing as heroin," Smith said.

"Russian roulette is really the best way to describe once you start taking prescription pills, heroine and other drugs because you don't know what you're going to get," Smith said.

He says that because the effects of pain pills are so similar to actual heroin, it is a dangerously slippery slope from legitimate prescription pill use toward addiction and heroine use.


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