Ohio attorney general: Heroin a statewide epidemic

CINCINNATI (AP) — Just as Ohio is making progress in the battle against prescription drug abuse, it’s getting overrun by heroin, the attorney general said today.

Mike DeWine said statistics compiled by his office show at least 11 Ohioans die each week from heroin overdoses, with the real total of heroin-related deaths likely to be even higher.

“We have a heroin epidemic,” DeWine said in a news conference announcing formation of a Heroin Unit in his office. “There is a heroin problem in every single part of the state. If you don’t think you have a problem with heroin in your community, you’re probably wrong.”

Ohio is experiencing a situation similar to what happened in neighboring Kentucky. Facing a pain-pill abuse epidemic over the past decades, both states launched efforts to choke off supply and cut abuse. But the quick spread in the last years in the United States of cheap, potent heroin from Mexico and other countries has sent drug abuse and overdoses skyrocketing in the region.

DeWine said heroin seizures by the Ohio State Highway Patrol are jumping, as are state crime lab cases involving heroin. He said there were than 600 heroin overdose deaths in the state in 2012, a figure that more than doubled since 2010.

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