BY MATT STUDENIC
Ohio is facing an extreme epidemic of heroin/opioid abuse. Wadsworth is no stranger to this, as it has become an epicenter for drug overdoses. Wadsworth emergency services respond to dozens of calls each month to administer Narcan, a life saving drug that almost immediately reverses the effects of a lethal dose of drugs. This community continues to combat this epidemic through educating and informing people of the dangers of these drugs.
On February 1, the PAC was the meeting center for a very crucial meeting. The meeting was held to discuss the ongoing problems with heroin, opioids and fentanyls. Attending the meeting were drug enforcement officers, individuals speaking from personal experiences, and people from the community that see the problem occur on a daily basis.
Mike Tobin, from the US Attorney’s Office, headlined the meeting with five other key speakers. The most notable speakers were Joe Pineau and Gary Hubbard. Both are law enforcement officers working to control this epidemic. Pineau runs the drug unit out of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Hubbard is the Executive Director of the Medina County Drug Force.
There is no easy way to describe what is happening, and unfortunately, there is not an easy way to stop it either. The Kaiser Family Foundation conducted an experiment that showed in 2015, the total opiate death total was 2,106. The saddest part of that statistic is that Ohio is the leading state in the category of deaths. Another statistic that no one wants to see is the gradual increase over a two year period.
“In 2015, we had 128 overdoses reported in the county and twenty deaths. In 2016, those numbers more than doubled to 258 overdoses and 36 deaths in the county alone,” said Pineau.
This increase has been a direct result from the use of fentanyls. The creation of drop boxes for opiates has proven to be a factor that is slowing this down. Since the drop boxes have been open from 2011 to now, over twelve tons of multiple drugs have been accounted for.
“I’ve been a drug prosecutor for over twenty years, and this is by far the worst epidemic I’ve ever seen in my career,” said Pineau.
Thankfully for Narcan, the amount of lives saved in 2016 was three times the number of deaths. With 20 lives saved, it is already proving to be helpful. Hubbard has first hand experience with the helpful tool. As a witness of the ever growing problem, Hubbard believes Narcan can help save people.
“Nonetheless, a miracle drug should not always be needed. Awareness must grow about this problem that has come to exist in our community,” said Adam Darwich, 11.