Escalating heroin and prescription painkiller abuse in Ohio drew state and local attention Wednesday as officials from both searched independently for ways to stem the growing number of overdose deaths.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine held the first in a series of town hall meetings looking for strategies to combat the problem that can be replicated statewide. Just more than 100 people attended the meeting in Moraine organized by Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer to educate the public on the dangers of heroin.
"Heroin is turning into the new social drug," Plummer said. "Younger and younger people are getting involved."
DeWine said heroin is in every county in Ohio and it and prescription drugs are driving the rising number of fatal overdoses in Ohio.
Ohio Highway Patrol troopers seized 87 pounds of heroin between Jan. 1 and Oct. 20 this year, compared to 17 pounds during the same period in 2010, John Born, director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, said at the Moraine meeting.
That 87 pounds equals 785,000 individual doses of heroin.
Troopers seized 43,706 opiate pills through Oct. 20 of this year, compared to 22,675 pills in 2010. The increases stem from more focused enforcement and a plentiful supply of drugs. Born said the patrol has doubled its drug-sniffing K-9s to 34 and increased trooper training.
At the meeting, Plummer announced the formation of a 23-member, Drug Free Coalition that will tackle opiate abuse and look at new illegal drugs as they emerge in the region and define ways to combat them. The coalition also will look at the effectiveness of addiction services.
Tune in to News Center 7 at 11 p.m. for Layron Livingston's report and read more about the town hall meeting in Thursday's Dayton Daily News.