Social-service programs in the Valley bulge with heroin addicts
Drug-treatment services are feeling the crunch of a rise in opiate-based drugs and heroin use in the Mahoning Valley.
Judge John Durkin of Mahoning County Common Pleas court says that 85 percent of the people who use the court’s Drug Court program are addicted to heroin or opiates.
He said not only has the drug court seen more people struggling with opiate and heroin addiction, but also it has seen younger people. In 1998, when the program started, the average age of participants was 35 and the drug of choice was cocaine. Now the average age of participants is 23 and the choice is heroin, Judge Durkin said.
Judge Durkin said he agrees with some in law enforcement who say that in recent years, a rise in heroin usage has been fueled by doctors who overprescribe opiate-based painkillers. People get addicted, then turn to heroin when they can get no more prescriptions filled, or their access to pills is cut off because it’s cheaper.
Lauren Thorp of the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board adds that while clients there are referred to two clinics, the bed space is often booked.
The Trumbull board is feeling the rise of opiate use as well. In 2011, Trumbull County ranked seventh in Ohio for opiate-based deaths.
Thorp said one of the reasons why Trumbull has such a high rate of heroin and opiate users is because of their high rates of unemployment and poverty. Also, the county is an area that has traditionally attracted a lot of drug traffickers because of Trumbull’s close proximity to several major road networks.
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