LORAIN, Ohio - Drug overdoses are reaching staggering numbers in Lorain County. Authorities said there are two dangerous trends at work.
Investigators reported more people who are addicted to painkillers are turning to heroin for a cheaper high, a drug that is often mixed with aspirin or other medications to cut the heroin.
Instead of a 45 percent hit of heroin, someone is selling pure heroin in Lorain County and drug users are dropping dead.
Five people died in one week on top of the nine people who have already died this year from overdosing on heroin in Lorain County.
The deaths add up to 20 when you add overdosing on prescription painkillers.
“This year in 2012, the amount we've had is up to 20 fatal overdoses in just six months when we only had 20 in all of 2011. That is alarming to all of us," explained Lorain County Sheriff Phil Stammitti.
Chief Deputy Dennis Cavanaugh said more people who are addicted to painkillers are turning to heroin because they either can't afford the painkillers or doctors are on to them.
The goal now is to track down the source of the pure heroin.
"As we test the heroin, there are different compounds in the heroin and as wet get it around here compared to something in the Detroit area or Chicago, it gives us and the DEA an idea of where that product is coming from," Cavanaugh explained.
To underscore how painkiller addiction is spinning out of control, Lorain County Detective Greg Mehling said he's never investigated so many people in the medical field.
"Since January 2010, we have investigated 26 nurses in Lorain County for various prescription scams or theft of drugs from a hospital or nursing home."
None of the current overdose fatalities are nurses, but investigators said those who are dying from heroin, and of painkiller overdoses, come from all walks of life and age groups and most heroin addicts are between the ages of 13 and 25.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Lorain Co. Headlines
The man who was found dead in a house fire in Elyria has been identified by the Lorain County Medical Examiner.
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections confirms that an inmate was killed during an argument at the Grafton Correctional Institution.