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DeWine Creates Heroin Unit to Combat Drug's Rise
COLUMBUS -- Claiming there is a heroin epidemic in Ohio, the states' Attorney General says his office has created a new unit to help local agencies combat the drug.
There is a heroin epidemic in Ohio, said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Monday in a news conference. He announced disturbing new figures about the use of heroin in the state. The data, gathered from coroners across the state, show that the use of heroin has increased dramatically over the last four years.
DeWine says that too often people don't want to believe heroin is a problem in their community, or family.
"The numbers tell a different story," DeWine said. "We know that, at minimum, 606 families across this state were directly impacted in 2012 by a heroin death.
The problem is statewide but DeWine said the fight must be made at the grassroots level.
"We have to get mad and say, Enough is enough, DeWine said.
The new Heroin Unit will include investigators, lawyers and drug abuse awareness specialists, who will assist law enforcement agencies, community leaders and Ohio residents in combating issues associated with the heroin epidemic, such as crime, addiction and overdose deaths.
"New data our office has gathered suggests 11 people die in Ohio every week from a heroin overdose, DeWine said. Heroin abuse and addiction has been a problem for a long time, one I keep hearing about as I talk with parents, prosecutors, and law enforcement around the state. These new efforts to fight heroin will not be the full solution to Ohio's heroin problem, but by providing what services we can, we hope to save lives and prevent addiction."
The decision to create the specialized unit was made after new data gathered by the Attorney General's Office in the past month revealed a 107-percent increase in heroin deaths among more than half of Ohios counties. The data was collected from 47 Ohio coroner's offices with complete heroin overdose data for 2010, 2011, and 2012.
The results are as follows:
2010: 292 heroin overdose deaths
2011: 395 heroin overdose deaths
2012: 606 heroin overdose deaths
The reporting counties with the largest number of heroin overdoses in 2012 include:
Cuyahoga County: 161
Franklin County: 73
Hamilton County: 54
Montgomery County: 93
Montgomery County Coroner Kent Harshbarger, who is also the Chief Forensic Officer for the Ohio State Coroners Association, attended todays announcement.
Heroin deaths in Montgomery County so far in 2013 are up to 92, nearly the number for the entire 2012 year, said Dr. Harshbarger. Im glad there is an increased effort to try to fight this increasing problem plaguing our state and killing too many Ohioans.
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