November 27, 2014

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Ohio sees record high heroin overdose deaths

Heidi Riggs talks about the 2012 heroin overdose death of her daughter, Marin Riggs, 20, who died only 18 months after first becoming addicted, in Upper Arlington, Ohio. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)

Heidi Riggs talks about the 2012 heroin overdose death of her daughter, Marin Riggs, 20, who died only 18 months after first becoming addicted, in Upper Arlington, Ohio. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A record number of Ohioans died from heroin-related overdoses in 2012, the state Department of Health said as it released the newest available figures for a problem that’s been called an epidemic and a public health crisis.

The state says 680 people died of heroin overdoses in 2012, up from 426 deaths in 2011, a 60 percent increase, according to data being released Friday.

The heroin increase also drove the overall number of fatal drug overdoses to a record of 1,272 deaths in 2012, up from 1,154 the previous year.

The state said the number of fatal prescription painkiller overdoses decreased for the first time since 2003, a drop attributed to a statewide crackdown on pill mills and the overprescribing of pain pills.

Heroin addiction has been increasing as prescription painkiller abusers turn to the cheaper and more readily available drug.

“What we’re seeing is a significant number of people moving to a more acute phase of their addiction disorder,” said Orman Hall, director of the governor’s cabinet opiate action team.

A decade of unrestricted prescribing of painkillers led to an addicted population, which in turn led to the heroin problem, said Christy Beeghley, program administrator for the Health Department’s Injury Prevention Program.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner released more recent statistics earlier in the year, announcing 195 heroin-related fatalities in 2013, up from 161 the year before. In 2007, 40 people in the Cleveland-area died of heroin-related overdoses.

Fatal drug overdoses remain the leading cause of accidental death in Ohio, above car crashes, a trend that began in 2007.

Ohio is not alone in high numbers of heroin deaths. In Massachusetts, Gov. Deval Patrick last month declared a public health emergency in response to heroin overdoses and opioid addiction. Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin dedicated his entire State of the State address this year to the problem. Minnesota authorities have seen a tenfold increase in the number of people seeking treatment for heroin addiction.

Attorney General Mike DeWine has called the heroin deaths an “epidemic” and created a statewide investigative unit to crack down on heroin dealers. U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach in Cleveland has labeled the problem a “public health crisis.”

Midway through 2011, Ohio enacted a law meant to reduce the number of pills-on-demand clinics where many addicts were receiving pain pills under questionable circumstances.

Authorities are optimistic that a law that took effect last month increasing access to a drug overdose antidote will reduce the number of deaths. The state is also testing a six-county drug court program that provides medication to addicts.

The state is also encouraged by a recent youth survey that found significant decreases in painkiller use by young Ohioans, Hall said.

In central Ohio, Marin Riggs died of a heroin overdose on Jan. 28, 2012, two weeks after her 20th birthday. She became addicted just 18 months earlier after smoking it, then turning to intravenous injections.

Riggs was a high school athlete in Pickerington in suburban Columbus, the last person one could imagine becoming a heroin addict, said her mother, Heidi Riggs.

“She loved life. She had good friends. She was funny. She was bright,” her mother said. “She was your all-American teenager.”

But Marin also suffered from self-esteem issues and may have felt bullied in school about her weight, her mother said. After her graduation the family began to notice missing spoons — used to dissolve heroin — and unusual expenses, such as $300 in gas on a company fuel card of her father’s. They learned of her addiction after she was required to submit to a drug test after being charged in a traffic accident.

Marin couldn’t shake the grip of heroin despite stints in rehab and attendance at AA meetings. She overdosed at home after six months of sobriety. Her mother now works for DeWine trying to educate people about heroin’s dangers.

“She knew she could die from it, but the grip that it had on her, and the way it made her feel, she’d go right back to it,” Heidi Riggs said.


  • SniperFire

    Lots of morons want to legalize all drugs, including the gateway dope.

    • B4CE

      Beer and cigarettes are legal gateway drugs. Maybe we should make those illegal?

    • Mark B

      Everyone who is a Heroin Addict started with Alcohol and Milk which one should we outlaw first ?

      • B4CE

        Def milk!

      • SniperFire

        You would argue that milk is a gateway drug to heroin? LOL

        • Mark B

          Marijuana does not lead to Heroin Use , if it did, over 50% of our population would be heroin Addicts. The Gateway Drug Hoax is a fallacy . Factually marijuana can be successfully used as a step down drug from heroin, it reduces the nausea and other withdraw symptom.

          • SniperFire

            Sorry, but you argued that milk was a gateway drug. You have no cred on the issue.

          • tala

            Yeah should have went with Sugar instead of milk.

            Guess what has the higher body count

          • Pablo Jones

            Well I have seen/read people die from reactions to milk. I haven’t seen anyone die from sugar. But if you know of a death that has the cause of death listed as sugar ingestion please let me know.

          • ekwaykway

            Ever hear of diabetes Pablo?

          • Pablo Jones

            I have seen people die from diabetes. But again I have never seen a death report that said the person died from sugar. Just like I have never seen a death certificate that said the cause of death was smoking.

          • ekwaykway

            You just said it yourself. When a person dies from diabetes it’s from excessive blood sugar. Right? Honestly Pablo, just read your own post. What is it you are trying to argue? Hell I don’t even remember what the topic is here. Bye Pablo.

          • Pablo Jones

            People die from other complications of diabetes, not sugar.

      • rob

        I agree with sniperfire. You cannot expect people to govern themselves on this. We need to take a more socialistic approach with strict guidelines for everyday life for every American. Socialism is the only answer. Good point sniperfire! I usually don’t see eye to eye with you!

        • SniperFire

          ‘You cannot expect people to govern themselves on this. ‘

          Indeed. That is why every nation on earth has drug laws.

    • tala

      Sugar is one of the worst killers in America.

      Sugar is a gateway that leads to WalMart.

      • Pablo Jones

        Never seen anyone that die from sugar.

        • tala

          Really? Ever see someone die of obesity or Diabetes?

          • Pablo Jones

            Do you listen to yourself? I say I have never seen someone die from sugar and you start talking about obesity and diabetes. That is like if I said I have never seen a dragon and you say really you have never seen a horse. Please stay on topic.

    • jz

      Heroin and cocaine used to be legal in this country, Lily manufactured these drugs and they were sold over the counter at drug stores. In those days nobody OD’d because of unknown purity or potency of drugs. Nobody had to commit crimes or sell their bodies to get drugs.

      • SniperFire

        ‘ In those days nobody OD’d because of unknown purity or potency of drugs. ‘ That is a strawman argument nobody is making. It is a sign of failure in your poor-excuse-for-a position. You rather suck at this.

        • jz

          Actually I got what you call the strawman argument from someone calling himself Cleveland Bill off the posts regarding the meth lab in Sheffield Lake. But, I already knew that prior to the Harrison Act in 1914 which began the drug war but at the time the legal arguments were more about the federal government overstepping states rights. All totally supportable in numerous history books and tv documentaries. You rather suck at this? Poor excuse of a position? Make it personal all you want.

  • jz

    In countries where drug abuse is dealt with as more of a medical issue than a law enforcement issue overdoses and crime have plummeted. The overdoses are in large part due to the heroin being controlled and distributed in a black market by criminals which guarantees the up and down potency of the product, for lack of a better word. Poison would also be a good word. but we will never be able to totally stop some people from escaping their pain or wanting a temporary euphoria despite the pitfalls. Especially when young people with so much promise sidetrack their futures by trying such an addictive drug. It is human nature. I would never advocate or encourage a person to use heroin or compare it to a few beers or a little marijuana here and there, but, it does not mean that the harm reduction approach advocated by LEAP, Law enforcement Against Prohibition, would not reduce deaths drastically. Not until a cops son overdosed did we see almost within the blink of an eye Narcan, which has already saved many lives. The idea of legalizing drugs has to do with who controls these substances and under which paradigm we deal with an imperfect world where some amongst us will succumb to the perils of drug addiction. A black market or a controlled regulated market? Alcohol prohibition drastically increased the consumption of hard liquor when most people preferred beer and ale. Reason. The black market preferred liquor cus it was able to be transported/smuggled/hidden more easily than beer. It also produced bathtub gin, to days black market version of meth. Maybe the morons are the ones who believe the same old counter productive drug war will someday be won. Drug addiction is bad, the Drug War is Worse.

    • SniperFire

      ‘ but we will never be able to totally stop some people from escaping their pain or wanting a temporary euphoria despite the pitfalls.’

      Right. But no reason to widen the circle by making it readily available to normally law abiding citizens. It is mostly an inner-city loser problem, despite the deceptive articles such as this which try to pretend differently.

      • jz

        Like I said no perfect world. The idea that the circle would be widened in not an absolute guarantee and has not happened in countries that have taken the harm reduction approach. An initial spike may happen early on but in the long run drug abuse has gone down in places where it has been decriminalized and regulated. Most people will still be smart enough to not get hooked on heroin. It is about trade offs also. Many people had their day with cocaine from late 70′s to about early 90′s without major problems. Did Len Bias die? Yes. Of course some went too far and caused themselves and their families problems from abuse of cocaine. Once again no perfect world. Then, the CIA played a role in large quantities of cocaine making its way to LA which was the beginning of the crack epidemic. [Read the book Powderburns by ex DEA agent Cel Castillo]. Now cocaine is less of a problem and we have heroin. In part due to the drug war crackdown on pain pills which drove the price so high that heroin became a more viable option> I,m speaking of addicts, not people who are thinking straight and would never try heroin in the first place. I disagree that a wider circle would ensue and even so, it would be so small that it would outweigh the negative consequences of the continued failed, destructive drug war. Semper Fi. Have you at least put 30 minutes of reading the LEAP site?

        • SniperFire

          ‘The idea that the circle would be widened in not an absolute guarantee ‘

          So you are a fool, too. LOL

          • jz

            I forgot the level of mental midget I was dealing with here.

          • SniperFire

            Sorry, but you don’t get away with a moronic dismissive oneliner and then ramble on when brighter posters than you are in the forum. LOL

          • jz

            Inner city losers? You are a fool? Morons? Then you tout with the LOL’s? You are one of the posters who continually lowers the level of dialogue and you call me moronic? When discussing a serious issue it takes insight and analytical thinking abilities, or the desire to do so. And respect for the other posters. This will require more than a few lines. “ramble on”? It’s too bad we have so many posters who would rather use the forum for snide remarks and not much productive conversation, knowing there will be disagreements.

          • SniperFire

            ‘inner city losers?’

            Yes. I provided you with a graphic that easily illustrates. You aren’t the sharpest Crayola in the 64 pack, are you? (rhetorical question. No need to answer. LOL)

    • Jeff

      wow, that’s quite a speech. i’ll give you a thumbs up just for typing it !!

      • SniperFire

        All the dopers have the speeches written for cut and pasting.

      • jz

        Thanks.

  • Jeff

    If they are dumb enough to use it, then they will pay the consequences for their actions. I do not believe in gateway drugs. Everyone has freewill and can just say NO !!

  • shadow

    I’m sorry but with the ongoing publicity about heroin (which I’ve heard since I graduated HS in 1973….) anyone should know….I mean it is NOT news that if you do heroin you will be addicted and die.

    It’s common knowledge. Nature has a way of thinning the herd and I guess IQ is just one of them.

    We could all carry around a shot of heroin in case one of these people would need a fix to keep them from dying but isn’t THAT a little ridiculous? Sooner or later these people have to have their very own ‘come to Jesus’ and decide to quit or else they die.

    No one can do it for them and I don’t care how many times someone saves one of these people they will go right back to the heroin and do it again.

    God help their children.

    • Starryeyes63

      Well said.

    • Sis Delish

      “I mean it is NOT news that if you do heroin you will be addicted and die.”

      I believe Keith Richards may have proved this statement wrong…

    • mh1492

      Doesn’t stop people from riding motorcycles which have a much higher
      death rate than cars. People make choices on how they want to live their
      lives based on their personal cost benefit analysis.

      Read the book “Drugs Without the Hot Air” by David Nutt. He was the former head of the British scientific committee tasked with determining the relative risks of various drugs.

      He’s a MD/Phd scientist and was fired when he wrote an op-ed about the fact that by his analysis horse back riding was six times more dangerous than taking ecstasy. It was titled Ecstasy vs Equisy. An Italian researcher found that the risks of taking ecstasy equaled those of riding a motorcycle for nine miles.

      The idea that drugs are inherently horribly dangerous and destructive is fundamental to our “War on Drugs”. That is the reason why marijuana, which is probably one of the most harmless drugs on the planet, is still demonized and that the knee jerk reaction of the authoritarian mind is outraged horror that anyone should question it’s absolute lethality.

      After all if you’re going to fight a war you need an EVIL enemy.

      • shadow

        What do you suppose was the number of people killed in Ohio from motorcycles and horseback riding? Hardly anywhere near the number of people who I say committed suicide on heroin. They knew the odds, they knew people get addicted and die, they are on their own.

        Sure, legalize it all…..I’ll support that. I don’t want to spend one dime on rehabs, courts, prosecutors, jails, etc for these people. Not one dime.

  • SniperFire

    ‘A decade of unrestricted prescribing of painkillers led to an addicted population, which in turn led to the heroin problem, said Christy Beeghley, program administrator for the Health Department’s Injury Prevention Program.’

    Oh look. Gateway drugs.

    • tala

      But look at the record tax free profits Pfizer has been able to enjoy.

      Heroin is bad mmkay? unless it says pfizer then its legal and is ok.

      • SniperFire

        Come back and post when you are done trippin’.

      • Pablo Jones

        Posting what you hear on other sites about the evils of big Pharma? It isn’t hard to do a search to find what Pfizer’s tax rate is. I guess between 15-30% (depending on the year) over the last decade is tax free.

        • tala

          Regardless of taxation the profits remain at record levels.

          Anything else I can correct for you?

          • golfingirl

            Since when is making a profit a crime? This is America, isn’t it? Last time I checked, businesses only stay in business when they show a profit.

            If you have a 401k plan, it more than likely contains pharma stocks.

            So how many of these heroin using fools have been saved by “big pharma,” through the use of Narcan? Maybe they should simply stop making naloxone and let them die.

            Pharmaceutical companies do not prescribe, the physicians do. Once made, they have no control over its use.

            It is not the production of these products, which are a godsend for the appropriate patient, that is the problem, it is the physicians who use them indiscriminately.

            No patient can receive them without a prescription. The blame lies with those writing the prescriptions.

            This is like saying automobile manufacturers are responsible for drunk driving deaths, because they made the car that was involved in the accident.

            Everyone knows these products are addictive. They need to assume accountability and use them responsibly. Blame the users, not the manufacturers who warn over and over again about their dangers.

            Pharma companies can never receive the names of the users of their products, due to HIPPA regulations. The physicians and pharmacists are the only ones who have access to this information. Put the responsibility on those that can control its use. This begins with the patient themselves.

          • Pablo Jones

            Why should anyone take you serious if you constantly post incorrect statements.

          • bdid.d

            Boom! Owned…

          • Pablo Jones

            Profits have been falling, especially for Pfizer since that patent for lipitor expired and it went generic. Again you think you know the facts when you don’t.

  • ekwaykway

    So let me get this straight, big Pharm makes a killing with oxy, as do doctors who over prescribe. Then addicts od on heroin after the crack down. And yet we blame the victims? Smh

    • mh1492

      How about people have chronic pain. People with chronic pain find pain killers make their lives much better. Doctors prescribe adequate doses of pain killers to allow these people to live as normal as life as possible.

      Enter the DEA, which decides that all of these patients are addicts. They force doctors to not prescribe cheap and safer then most medications to their patients.

      The patients get jerked of their meds, told to quite whining and tough it out. So they seek relief elsewhere.

      In 1914 the Harrison Act made the unathourized use of these substances illegal.

      It had one immediate effect. In 1912, it was estimated that 20% of addicts were criminals. In 1914 100% of addicts became criminals.

      • shadow

        It is far worse to lose ones soul to drugs …… better to tolerate a little pain than to become addicted and expect everyone around you to deal with you once addicted. You will ruin EVERYONE’S life once addicted—but see, addict just don’t care. Do the right thing—you already know the answer.

        • jz

          Bull. It is still a situation where most use the pain meds as prescribed for a lot more than “a little pain”. Who are you to make such a drastic big sweep concerning all parties involved here? It is and always has been a small percentage of the population abusing any drug. Despite the terrible statistics with recent heroin abuse, still, 99 percent of young people will never get into heroin. It is not my wifes fault that some abuse heroin and it is not your place to judge whether or not she needs the pain meds for her spinal stenosis and neurapathy. Very painful indeed. Of course some people lose their souls to heroin, alcohol, gambling etc. In many cases these younger ones started out illegally abusing pain meds which were never prescribed for them by a doctor. The drug war clamps down on that problem, and 2 years later the meds cost too much so they unwisely, [to put it lightly] move up to the much more dangerous heroin because they are already addicted to the pain meds. This is a societal problem yes indeed. But when my arthritis gets worse and my doctor wants to prescribe me pain meds, that has nothing to do with the terrible decision by some to use heroin.

          • SniperFire

            ‘Who are you to make such a drastic big sweep concerning all parties involved here?’

            Sort of like Libertarian morons declaring that all drug abuse should be legal, which is practiced NOWHERE in the word because the sum total of experience of all of mankinds cultures, societies and experiences has proven this concept to be nothing short of moronic. LOL

          • jz

            The sum total of experience etc has proven that the law enforcement drug war approach has done nothing but create more problems on top of the problem of what would be a small percentage of people who will succumb to drug, alcohol, nicotine and gambling addiction. And no you are wrong about drug laws always having been around. And also what is happening in countries like Spain, Portugal, Uruguay and othersRead Cleveland Bills comment on the meth story in this newspaper. Do you even know what the Harrison Act was? Are you even familiar with William Randolph Hearst and Harry Anslinger? And their ties to lumber which makes newspapers,{Hearst} and Anslinger,? Their heavy influence and lies to Congress which which led to the beginning of government intervention in drug war history in the U.S. It was about control of states rights by the federal government, a clear violation of the Constitution. If you had some knowledge about drug law history throughout the ages you would know that it has ebbs and flows and even Nixons commission highly reccomended against what he eventually did, declare war on drugs. Which had nothing to do as far as he was concerned about protecting people from drugs. Again it requires some well rounded knowledge of history. And the ability to”ramble” in an intelligent evidence based argument. Amd what’s with the “moron” thing? It’s like a bad twitch. Get that checked out. A brain scan may get to the root of the problem.

          • SniperFire

            ‘The sum total of experience etc has proven that the law enforcement drug war approach has done nothing but create more problems on top of the problem of what would be a small percentage of people who will succumb to drug’

            Utter unsupportable nonsense. Every nation in the world has laws against dangerous drugs for a reason. You are a joke.

          • jz

            You still have not indicated if you ever researched the LEAP site or the Drug Policy Alliance, or former DEA agent Celerino Castillo’s book Powderburns. Just 3 sources of Supportable nonsense speaking out against why the drug war has created more problems than the use or abuse of drugs. Here are a few more jokers who wholeheartedly stand against the drug war, Supportable nonsense. Walter Cronkite, Alexander Haig, George Shultz, William F. Buckley, Serpico, former Govenor of New Mexico Richardson, former Baltimore police chief, Former Baltimore mayor whose names escape me now, Former New York Govenor Laguardia, and numerous judges, prosecutors, cops and ex cops too many to mention here who belong to LEAP and like myself have lots of Supportable, rational, evidence based arguments that Support our opinion that just because every nation has laws against dangerous drugs, does not mean that perhaps it is time to change our approach on this issue. All these other respectable and accomplished people are a joke too? I’ve said it before it is understandable why many people are with you on this argument. I,m showing you some respect and acknowledging that I know why many people want to continue the same path we’ve been on. Utter unsupportable nonsense? You on the other hand show no respect and therefore get none from me. Until you acknowledge that you have acquainted yourself with LEAP, read their mission statement at the very least, and all of the other people and organizations such as the Drug Policy Alliance, many of whom worked in drug enforcement or the judicial system who believe our drug war is a total failure then all you are doing is name calling and acting as if I am the only one who disagrees with you when in fact many do not. I think you are afraid to acknowledge or afraid to read up on LEAP because you would have competition against your opinion on this matter and have to acknowledge lot of Supportable evidence and for some unknown reason you want this to be a personal fight between just you and me. I have never said drug abuse is encouraged, never said certain drugs like heroin are not dangerous etc. You are the joke because your debating skills are that of a 3rd grade bully and I hate bullies and have never backed down from one.

          • SniperFire

            ‘You still have not indicated if you ever researched the LEAP site or the Drug Policy Alliance’

            LOL. Why go to some advocacy site for stoners when I have the sum toto of world culture, society, experience and history which tells us each and every government of mankind has eventually decided that we need laws to keep dangerous drugs out of the hands of the population?

            Did I mention you were a pathetic joke? LOL

      • bdid.d

        Haha, jerked off their meds! Fyi no Dr. Would take anyone off these meds without weaning them off…

    • Pablo Jones

      Big Pharma doesn’t make a killing on pain drugs. They are generically made with little profit.

      • ekwaykway

        You’re right Pablo, what the hell was I thinking? :-0

  • tala

    Truth time, Do you think “Marin Riggs, 20, who died only 18 months after first becoming addicted” Died of what???

    Heroin or legal heroin made in pill form brought to you by pfizer?

    Some of you have forgotten that the drugs that are killing people have already been legalized long ago. What’s the gateway? Pot leads to legal heroin, cigarettes and alcohol?

    You think these kids start off on putting needles in their arms or are they taking pills from grandmas medicine cabinet?

  • bdid.d

    When you tie your arm off until you can’t speak…then you notebook and I

  • bdid.d

    Worst part is, Princess was never prescribed anything… Mom and Dad supplied and paid for everything… sad