Heroin and opioid epidemic on Bowling Green’s door

Heroin use is becoming a growing problem in the country, and law enforcement agencies are working to stop it before it takes more lives.

“Heroin is affecting everyone. This is not just an inner-city issue,” NorthWest Community Corrections Center program director, Charlie Hughes, said.

Wednesday at 7 p.m., Chief Tony Hetrick of the Bowling Green Police and Ohio Sen. Randy Gardner, along with a panel of experts, came together to discuss the heroin and opioid epidemic in Bowling Green.

The first sign of such an epidemic was seen in 2010, but numbers in 2017 have reached 948,000 deaths and 14,019 fatal overdoses across the U.S., with Ohio having the second highest drug-related overdoses in the states,

In Woody County alone, 12 deaths and one fatal overdose have taken place this year. However, compared to 2016’s higher rate of fatalities, there has been a decrease in heroin related deaths in this area.

Wood County was also said to be the first in Ohio to sentence people with voluntary manslaughter charges that were tied to heroin-related deaths, Hetrick said. Although the average sentencing time for heroin and opiate use is three years, the police force has apprehended four dealers charged with voluntary manslaughter, three of them under narcotics-related causes.

However, not all of the criminal effects of people using narcotics result in death. “Most theft related issues are most likely drug related,” Hetrick said.

Efforts have also been made in the state legislature to fuel more addiction recovery efforts. Ohio House Bill 110, introduced May 24, 2016, states a person that commits manslaughter or serious injury in an automobile collision while driving under the influence of drugs has a 30-day window to seek help or face consequences.

Treatment method options have also been updated for law enforcement officers to utilize after discovery.

Aimee Coe of the Zepf Center said they provide many services to incoming patients, including opiate disorder treatment, recovery housing for those in need and many other types of care. “We also work closely with law enforcement to help resolve issues,” Coe said.

A quick response team has also surfaced to address overdoses so that, within 24 hours, victims will be contacted by law enforcement.

Despite Toledo and Findlay being the top areas for heroin and opiate dealers, there are not a lot of opiates being sold in Bowling Green. Gardner said that, “we are moving in a positive direction”.

There are many resources to reach out to if symptoms of opiate and heroin-related complications surface. Recovery rates vary depending on the geographical location, but in Bowling Green, the issue of this outbreak has decreased.