Galion Inquirer, other Aim Media sites, taking a closer look at opioid crisis

GALION — The stories are in every community, across every income and background.

The mother who was only allowed to see her child if the visit was supervised, and finally actually showed up — admittedly high.

The Indiana woman who sold her body so she could buy drugs.

The 23-year-old found dead in the garage of his parents’ home of an overdose after the longest stretch of sobriety in his adult life — 60 days — leaving his mother to wonder what led him to use again.

We’re increasingly addicted and dying. And the signs are all over our communities, including Galion and Crawford County.

All of the newspapers owned by Aim Media Midwest, including the Galion Inquirer, Morrow County Sentinel and Bellville Sentinel, will be taking a closer look at this epidemic. In the next several months, the Inquirer will talk with law enforcement, addicts, recovering addicts and their families. We will share those stories.

Syringes litter the park where your kids play and the streets where you walk to work. Officers are spending extra time patrolling neighborhoods after repeated reports of vehicle and home break-ins.

Local hospitals are taking care of infants born addicted, an issue they had never even dealt with a few years ago. Social service agencies are begging for residents to become foster parents, taking in children whose parents are in jail, on drugs or dead.

Tormented families are desperately trying to get help for sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers. In many cases, they have to plan funerals instead.

No one is left untouched by the worst drug crisis in U.S. history.

In 2016, 42,000 Americans — or 115 people a day — died after overdosing on opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s more than the number of deaths from breast cancer and prostate cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Addiction is a nationwide issue. It’s also a north central Ohio issue.

According to the CDC, nearly 2 million Americans abused or were dependent on prescription opioid medications in 2014. And as many as 1 in 4 people who take prescription opioids long-term for pain not related to cancer struggles with addiction.

The number of overdoses continue to climb.

In 2016, the number of deaths from opioid overdoses was five times higher than in 1999, according to the CDC. More than a half a million people died from drug overdoses from 2000 to 2015. Everyday, more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency rooms across the nation for incorrectly using prescription opioids.

Another concern is the spread of potent synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, that police are finding more and more often. From 2014 to 2015, the number of times police have come across the drug has doubled. The CDC put out an alert about the spread of the drug in 2015, citing it as the reason for significant increases in recent years of opioid deaths.

In 2009, 23.5 million people needed treatment for a drug or alcohol abuse problem, but only 2.6 million — 11.2 percent — received it at a specialty facility, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Families across the heartland say the issues that make treatment more challenging haven’t changed.

Communities are tasked with considering a range of options, but few have been implemented while police and fire departments are being called to more and more overdoses.

For others, their addiction lands them in jail.

The issue is the cost, and no one is sure how to afford it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment and criminal justice involvement.

So the question is: What now?

For families struggling, local officials fretting, the economy suffering and the emergency workers rushing to help, that solution can’t come soon enough.

Opioids written in chalk on blackboard with crushed powder, spoon, syring and prescription vial. written in chalk on blackboard with crushed powder, spoon, syring and prescription vial.
Few left untouched by worst drug epidemic in history


Aim Media Midwest