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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Why Ohio Is Getting Smacked: The Heroin Reality

"Drug enforcement officials throughout Ohio
 are seeing an alarming rise in heroin use.
Arrests for possession and trafficking are up in the state,"

Stephanie Mennecke, ONN


1. The risk and price are up for opioid abusers, so they are switching to heroin.

The crackdown on rx drug abuse has caused a rise in heroin use as people who once abused drugs such as Percocet, Vicodin and OxyContin now choose to purchase heroin.  (Palm Coast, Floida undercover narcotics detectives noticed the street price for oxycodone pills went up from an average of $15 a pill to $25 a pill -- December 2011 to February 2012)

2. People started to believe that heroin is less dangerous since the purer form today can be snorted or smoked.

Youth, especially, think that they can just snort heroin, and, therefore, it is not as dangerous or degenerate as shooting it (they all end up shooting it anyway), but nothing seems to be scaring them off.

Although smoking and sniffing heroin do not produce a "rush" as quickly or as intensely as intravenous injection, NIDA researchers have confirmed that all three forms of heroin administration are addictive.

In truth, street heroin can also be cut with strychnine or other poisons. Because heroin abusers do not know the actual strength of the drug or its true contents, they are at risk of overdose or death. Heroin also poses special problems because of the transmission of HIV and other diseases that can occur from sharing needles or other injection equipment.

3. Youth, in particular, have developed an attitude that no matter the warnings about heroin use, "It's no big deal."

Author, journalist and recipient of the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism Robbie Woliver paints this terrifying picture. Woliver says, "To them, pill-taking, pot smoking or shooting heroin are interchangeable. They know how addictive heroin is, but they just don't care. They know they'll end up in jail, but they just don't care. They know their friends are dying from it, but they just don't care.

"And this is the most important part, the key to understanding  this rise in the use of heroin: this is not a drug-dazed haze that's making them not be able to make wise decisions, it happened well before they started using. These kids just don't think it's a big deal one way or another--there is no stigma any longer, nor is it a badge of honor. It doesn't make them "cool." It's just what everybody does. No big deal." (Robbie Woliver, "Heroin Use Among Suburban Teens Grows Because Because It's 'No Big Deal,'" Psychology Today, June 29 2010)

According to Woliver, "When kids stop talking openly about their heroin addiction, then we'll know that they know they're doing something wrong, and we'll be on the way to success in fighting this uphill battle."

4.  The cost of producing heroin has gone down making heroin more affordable and available.

5. The potency of heroin has increased making it attractive to users.

The increased efficacy (In pharmacology, efficacy, refers to the maximum response achievable from a drug.) makes heroin a preferred target. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the average heroin abuser uses an estimated 400 milligrams daily.

6. Heroin a high-profit (cost effective) substance for smugglers and dealers.

The price of heroin is typically valued 8 to 10 times that of cocaine on American streets.

7. The high cost per volume makes heroin easier than most drugs to smuggle.  

A quarter-sized vial can contain hundreds of doses. Of course, this reduced size contributes to ease of smuggling.

 Evidence of Rising Heroin Trade in Ohio

Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers seized more than 17 pounds of heroin, valued at more than $3 million, following a traffic stop on the Ohio Turnpike in Wood County on December 7, 2011. This bust was the single largest amount of heroin seized in patrol history. (WNWO Newsdesk,, December 8 2011)

The patrol observed criminal indicators so they stopped the car, and the driver issued consent to search the vehicle. The search revealed the heroin hidden in the inner wall of a refrigerated cooler located in the vehicle’s cargo area.

The suspect, Marco Rene Criollo, 46, of Woodhaven, N.Y., was incarcerated in the Lucas County Jail. The case has been turned over the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for prosecution. This seizure has taken nearly 20,000 daily doses out of the hands of its abuser.

According to reports from 2008, the heroin trend is routinely affecting youth.Young people are using more and more of the drug.

For example, a 15-year-old girl was discovered with heroin at Marysville High School. She told authorities she had purchased the drug in Columbus.

In a related story, authorities in central Ohio recently announced the arrests of two dozen people accused of participating in a heroin ring that transported drugs from Mexico into Ohio and West Virginia.

"It's fairly well known you can get heroin in Columbus," said Union County Prosecutor David Phillips. "It's an easy drive." ("Heroin Use On Rise In Ohio," ONN, August 26 2008)

The Story of Jamie Greene

This article presents the human tragedy of heroin abuse.  (Rich Cholodofsky and Richard Gazarik, "Heroin Becomes Drug of Choice for Teens, Pittsburgh/Allegheny Tribune-Review, April 30 2006)

"Jamie Greene was a happy, well-behaved teenager from a good middle-class home. She was an A student with perfect attendance. She wanted to be a nurse and loved to ride horses.

"Shortly after her 18th birthday, between her junior and senior years at Norwin High School, Greene tried heroin and quickly became addicted. Three years later, she was dead of an overdose.

"'From the first day she snorted heroin, it robbed her of her life. It took a high-spirited, very pretty, outgoing, polite young woman and turned her into a dishrag,' said Greene's mother, Diane Shields, of North Huntingdon. 'It robbed her brain from ever being normal again. It took her skin and turned it into scars. It turned her into a criminal. Spirituality, it robbed her of that.'

"Greene was addicted through the end of high school; by that time, she also had graduated from snorting heroin to injecting it. She stole thousands of dollars from her parents. She tried to kick her habit through rehabilitation but failed. Even a pregnancy couldn't keep her sober.

"Alyssa Diane, whom Greene said was fathered by her drug supplier, was born in August 2004. But Greene continued to use heroin. By December, she was using 20 bags a day. In six months, she spent about $20,000 on heroin, her mother estimated.

"In January 2005, Greene again agreed to enter rehab. She was forced out after just 14 days when her state-supplied insurance ran out. She took off for Minnesota, then Texas.She returned home in March.

"After spending a night out with friends, Greene went home to her parents' house where her daughter was in the care of a baby-sitter. She went into the bathroom and injected herself with heroin.

"Thirty minutes later, she was dead.

"'If Jamie could come back to me today, I'd be here for her. If I had to go to the ends of the earth to help her, I would. Once they overdose and die, all your hopes are gone,' Shields said.

Greene's death in March 2005 left behind loving parents who repeatedly tried to wean her from the addiction and an infant daughter born into a world of drug abuse that left her addicted, too.

Please look at this picture of Jamie Greene. It is the photo of a heroin addict before she was devastated by the disease. It is the photo of a beautiful, intelligent, vibrant young lady who was on the verge of a fantastic life and a successful career. But, she was poisoned and robbed of that opportunity. We all lost a valuable resource when Jamie died. She can never be replaced. Never.

Similar stories and deaths have happened and are still happening in Ohio. Heroin represents a relatively new and strong opponent of the movement against drug abuse. As illogical as you may think this entry might be -- I can hear you say, "Heroin? Hell, no kid of mine is going to stick needles into his/her arms. You are some totally uninformed dumb ass talking about something only street addicts and losers would do." -- the ugly reality is here. 

I am so tired of people talking about legalization of drugs and underestimating the horrible toll consumption takes. Believe me, you can equate taking heroin with swallowing rx drugs. In fact, most users of heroin started early, usually with either prescription pills such as OxyContin or Vicodin. 

Read the entire report about Jamie Greene here:

“I had someone at the Houston police station 
shoot me with heroin
 so I could do a story about it.
The experience was a special kind of hell.
 I came out understanding full well how one 
could be addicted to 'smack,' and quickly.” 
 --Dan Rather, Journalist
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