The scourge of drugs

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine spoke about heroin use in Ohio during his visit to Laminate Technologies in Tiffin Wednesday.

During the 1970s, DeWine said he was county prosecutor in Greene County and at that time, heroin use was found in a small group of Dayton residents. Now, DeWine said the entire state is affected by the drug.

“It’s in every county. It’s in every rural county. It’s in every suburban place,” he said. “It’s plentiful and cheap.”

DeWine said last year, more than 900 heroin overdose deaths were reported in Ohio. He said the number likely was underreported.

To fix the issue, DeWine said the state crime lab is looking into several initiatives.

He said a special unit has been set up in his office to provide technical expertise to smaller law enforcement agencies to arrest street sellers and those higher in the organization.

“We’re not going to arrest our way out of the problem,” he said. “It’s not just a supply problem. It’s a demand problem.”

He said more treatment facilities also would assist in eliminating the problem, instead of arresting heroin users.

A grassroots education group has started in Union County, where many communities have lost high school students to heroin overdose. Due to the success of this program, he said three people have been hired by his office to assist communities in starting similar programs.

DeWine said addressing prescription drug addictions also would help with the heroin issue, as many people who are addicted to prescription drugs switch to heroin because it is cheaper.

He said doctors should be held more accountable and should not be giving as many prescriptions to individuals.

DeWine also said most crimes in Ohio come from addiction.

“If you talk to law enforcement, they’ll tell you 80 to 90 percent (of crime) is drug-related or alcohol-related,” he said. “If you can eliminate those addictions, you’ll eliminate most of the problem. …You’ve got to fight back. Every community’s got to try to do something.”

DeWine attended a private reception with donors at Camden Falls Wednesday evening.