Addiction Hitting Hard in Ohio's Rural Areas
Addiction has “devastated hundreds of cities and small towns,” Danville Lieutenant Mark Perkins said.
Danville, a village east of Mount Vernon, sponsored an event this spring with the hopes of addressing the growing drug crisis in Knox county.
The Danville Police Department invited community members to a Skype session with author Sam Quinones.
Quinones is author of the book “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic.” Quinones is a journalist who spent a decade working in Mexico and another 10 years covering immigration, drugs and gangs for the Los Angeles Times.
Although the drug crisis is widespread, Columbus, Ohio, is part of what Quinones called “ground zero” in the epidemic.
Quinones said the drugs come in from Mexico to Columbus and then out to clients and distributors. A large percentage of the drugs end up in communities like Knox County because there is a smaller risk of a drug bust in smaller towns and rural areas.
The drug crisis largely involves opiate addiction, such as heroin trafficked from Mexico.
“We have a drug problem that is not Mexican, it is not American, it is binational,” Lieutenant Perkins said. “It is complicit.”
Quinones began writing “Dreamland” because he wanted to “understand why Mexican heroin trafficking is doing such brisk business.”
Historically, an increase in demand has meant an increase in prices. But now, the cost of heroin has plummeted because of the ever-efficient manufacturing process.
According to Quinones, the drugs come from Tajuana, Mexico, where they can be ordered and delivered “much like a pizza.”
The drug market expanded further into Columbus around the time pharmaceutical companies began promoting narcotics as a solution to pain.
However, narcotics—even those prescribed for legitimate medical purposes—are addictive. Eighty percent of heroin users reported using prescription pain killers first.
The Mexican cartels come into play because Mexican heroin is a cheaper and more powerful alternative to pharmaceutical narcotics, so many users eventually turn to heroin.
“These folks are messing with some dangerous, bad stuff,” Lieutenant Perkins said.
“Heroin is no joke.”
Ohio Blames Pharmaceutical Industry
for State’s Growing Opioid Crisis
The state of Ohio is engaged in a lawsuit against five pharmaceutical companies for allegedly contributing to the opioid epidemic.
The lawsuit claims the companies downplayed or failed to disclose the addiction risks of prescription painkillers. Between 2011 and 2015, more than 3.8 billion doses of opioid medication were prescribed in Ohio.
The result is the Appalchian region, including the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania, now embroiled in the worst drug epidemic in history.
The suit seeks hundreds of millions of dollars to help in the state’s battle against opioid addiction.
Ohio ranked second in the nation with 4,050 overdose deaths in 2016, behind only West Virginia. The state reported 5,232 Ohio overdose deaths from July 1, 2016 through June 31, 2017.
Overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans under 50. They now claim more lives than car crashes, gun deaths and the AIDS virus did at their peaks, according to an NBC News story in June of 2017.
The lawsuit names Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Johnson & Johnson and Allergan as allegedly misleading doctors into overprescribing opioids as painkillers.
The Knox County Commissioners have decided to join the lawsuit.