The heroin epidemic is still spreading despite the government’s best efforts. On Oct. 10, multiple state officials gathered at a summit located in the Lorain County Community College’s Spitzer Conference Center. This summit was put together by Ohio State Senator Gayle Manning, to discuss the crisis with other government officials and Ohio residents.
Lorain County has been fighting off the heroin epidemic for over four years, but the scourge is still spreading and is more prevalent than ever. Naloxone, also known as narcan, has become more available, but hasn’t helped stop the problem. Incarceration and felony charges are not helping either.
According to John Miraldi, Lorain County judge, local jails are at 125% capacity. “These are not criminals, these are people whose brains have been affected by addiction and need treatment,” said Miraldi. While heroin use is still rising there are increasingly effective methods of treatment being implemented.
“I have been in this field for 33 years and I have never seen anything as destructive or addictive as [heroin],” said Thomas Stuber, president and CEO of Lorain County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services (LCADA). Stuber spoke about how heroin affects the brain and how destructive addiction is as a chronic illness. However, people can still recover and treatment teaches patients how to handle the illness.
The issue has been the lack of treatment options. With no local detox programs around, addicts that are ready to get help having difficulty finding the resources.
For this reason, the Lorain County Recovery Court was created. The court aims to steer addicts whose behavior has resulted in criminal offences into recovery facilities, then works with the felons to help find them jobs to resocialize them. After a year, over 1,000 drug tests have been issued with just over 1 percent of them coming back positive for opiates.
Lorain Chief of Police Cel Rivera also spoke at the summit about what the police are doing to help stop the spread of heroin. The Lorain Sheriff’s Office holds bi-yearly drug pickup days, or can be dropped off at area police stations. the medication is then picked up and incinerated to prevent it from getting into the water supply.