CLEVELAND - Nearly 200 people in Cuyahoga County are projected to die from heroin this year, which would make 2013 a record high for heroin-related deaths in the county. That’s according to the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner.
“We’re in the middle of something that’s very alarming,” said Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald and U.S. attorney Steve Dettelbach hosted a news conference on Tuesday on the county’s heroin problem.
“Trying heroin might be the last mistake that you ever make,” Dettelbach said. “It’s dangerous, and whether it’s over a period of time or whether it’s instantaneous, heroin is going to kill you.”
In the first six months of this year alone, 97 people died from heroin-related deaths. In 2012, a total of 161 deaths were attributed to the drug. In 2011, there were 107 heroin-related deaths.
“It’s huge,” said Ninna, a recovering heroin addict who lives in North Olmsted. “It’s doctors, lawyers, attorneys, kids.” Ninna was addicted to heroin for five years. She injected once a day and like so many others, she got hooked on the drug through prescription painkillers.
“Prescription drugs, particularly things like oxycodone, have become a gateway to heroin,” Fitzgerald said.
Heroin provides much of the same effect as painkillers at a fraction of the cost.
“You feel no pain, you feel nothing,” Ninna said. “It takes away your sense of humor, it takes away your sadness, it takes away everything you can possibly think of.”
Ninna said heroin destroyed her life and now the drug is destroying the life of her 27-year-old son who’s also an addict.
“It’s hell as a mother, I’d rather anything in the world than that,” she added.
Local officials urged doctors and pharmaceutical companies to be more conservative in prescribing and promoting painkiller medications. They also called on parents to get prescription painkillers out of the medicine cabinet at home and out of sight of kids and young adults.
The officials announced that they’ll be holding a summit on the heroin drug problem with local agencies in November.
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Police have charged a 28-year-old Cleveland woman with aggravated vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident after she allegedly ran over a woman who had been ejected from her car.
Expert offers safety tips on how to protect your home if you live near vacant houses.