April 18, 2014

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No. 7: Fatal heroin and prescription drug overdoses in Lorain County skyrocket as part of a national trend

Recovering addict Dillon Starnes talks about his plight.

Fatal overdoses involving heroin, prescription pills or a combination of both skyrocketed in Lorain County, part of a state and national trend.

Drug overdoses have been the leading cause of death in Ohio since 2007, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Through Dec. 20, there have been 57 overdoses in the county, according to Dr. Stephen Evans, Lorain County coroner. There were 22 each last year and in 2010.

Most of those who died this year were between 20 and 40 years old. Many addicts get hooked on prescription drugs and when they can no longer afford them switch to less expensive heroin which has become more potent in recent years.

Critics of the pharmaceutical industry say it is over-marketing pills and encouraging doctors to over prescribe them to increase profits. Other critics say an over emphasis on enforcement and incarceration rather than treatment has exacerbated the problem.

Evans wants the Ohio Board of Pharmacy to approve allowing firefighters, police and people who live with addicts to be allowed to carry Narcan, a nasal spray that can revive addicts who’ve overdosed. Narcan can only be prescribed by a doctor in Ohio.