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Cheap, deadly heroin is back, and use is on rise

Published: Sun, August 11, 2013 @ 12:01 a.m.

RELATED: Valley's heroin comes from Mexico, South America and Southwest Asia




Heroin has everything someone could possibly want in a drug.

It’s cheap. It’s available.

In some circles, it’s chic.

It takes away pain and helps you feel better.

But for every good thing, there is something bad.

With heroin, the bad is addiction and death.

It’s especially lethal when combined with other drugs.

This second decade of the 21st century has launched with a stunning rise in heroin use and in overdose deaths.

The coroners for Mahoning and Trumbull counties, Dr. Joseph Ohr and Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk, respectively, say some of that is to be expected from a drug that is not regulated and is prepared for sale by people who often have no idea what they are doing or putting into the drug.

“When you purchase your little bag, you have no idea what is in there,” Dr. Germaniuk said.

“You have no idea what you’re putting in your body,” added Lt. Jeff Orr from the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office, who heads up the Trumbull Ashtabula Law Enforcement Task Force, which investigates drug crimes in Trumbull County.

Dr. Germaniuk said drug dealers “cut” or add other chemicals to the heroin to maximize profits and make it last longer, so people who are taking the drug are often not getting the full effect.

“If they get an ounce, then they’ll try to double it,” Orr said.

The trend over the last couple of years, however, is for drug dealers to sell purer heroin and give it less of a cut, which gives a stronger high and drives up demand. But that also makes the drug more deadly.

“It’s not bad heroin. It’s better heroin,” Dr. Germaniuk


Lt. Gerald Slattery, who heads the vice squad for the Youngstown Police Department, said a typical single dose of heroin, called a bindle, goes for $20.

Judge John M. Durkin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, who runs the drug court there, said increased heroin usage began in 2006 and 2007, and now 85 percent of the people in the drug-court program are people with heroin or opiate-based addictions.

A watershed year for Ohio was 2007, the first year accidental drug overdoses were the leading cause of death, supplanting car accidents.

Drs. Ohr and Dr. Germaniuk each said the majority of overdoses in their counties in recent years come from a combination of drugs, in which heroin or an opiate-based substance is used with another drug.

Dr. Ohr said 50 of the 283 death investigations his office handled in 2012 involved drug overdoses, and of those cases, about half involved heroin in one way or another. Of those cases, 11 people also had cocaine in their system; eight people had Valium, Ohr said.

Heroin is “back, and it’s cheap,” Dr. Ohr said.

Heroin is a drug that controls the nervous system and is a depressant, Dr. Germaniuk said. It shuts down motor skills and adversely affects heart rate and breathing.

“It tends to slowly dim the lights upstairs,” Dr. Germaniuk said.

Orr, along with Bob Bolzano, head of the local federal Drug Enforcement Administration office, and Judge Durkin all said a main reason heroin use has increased is that doctors are prescribing opiate-based painkillers more frequently.

Patients then become addicted, and if they can get no more prescriptions, then they must get that medication on the black market. Often, they will make the switch to heroin because it is cheaper.

Despite the dangers, heroin and opiates remain popular because of the calming effect they have on people.

“Any drug that takes away pain or anxiety is addictive,” Dr. Ohr added.


1sknirak(120 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

What's worse? Taking a substance that can and will kill you or its fueling the crimes of an area? Both!

With what is known about it's manufacture and the turf wars that are engendered by it (with possibly more killings), this isn't good news

There is supposed to be an issue on the ballot in November concerning the legalization of recreational drugs...if I remember correctly. Add this to texting and tweeting while driving and it "ain't gonna be good".

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2papa1(711 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

as one who has not enjoyed good health for my entire adult life I cannot imagine why anyone would put this poison in their bodies and seriously endanger their health just to get, what, a little rush? to say they're stupid doesn't even describe them. too many people take their good health totally for granted. if they had to battle every day to stay positive about themselves and try to maintain a modicum of good health they wouldn't think about any drug. it's a shame. your body is a temple of God. treat it as such.

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3redeye1(5615 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Gdog I guess you have never heard of peer pressure. You probably didn't have many friends growing up . A lot of times these so-called friends would try to get you to try drugs. But the smart ones knew how to stand up to them and tell them NO But there are people who will do anything their friends tell them too in order to be accepted by them. By the way, maybe you should think before you post a smart remark about someone else too

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4southsidedave(5189 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago


That is how rumors begin ..."an issue on the ballot in November concerning the legalization of recreational drugs...I never heard of anything so stupid as to think our Government would actually consider legalize dangerous drugs such a s heroin...

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5Silence_Dogood(1670 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago


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6TERRAPINST(320 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Heroin is legal. Only problem is they don't call it heroin, they call it methadone and suboxone now. Further the government supports and subsidizes the sale of these substances. Some local agencies have generated streams of income through their drug dependent power of care. You take someone dependent on methadone and suboxone, and you make it impossible or illegal to get and you will see the exact same behavior you see from the traditional "junkie". If harm reduction as opposed to breaking dependence is the issue than legalization has already occurred.

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7prodgodq(172 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

I did a lot of partying in my 20's, but I never understood the desire to get high to the point where it destroys the body. Ultimately it comes down to choice. At some point during the addiction process, a person makes the choice to keep using even though they know they have a problem. Heroin, meth, etc causes addiction among the poor, middle class or rich alike. It's a worldwide problem, and this area is no different.

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