AVON LAKE - Avon Lake Mayor Greg Zilka said Lorain County has a serious problem with heroin and it is time to face it.
"The reality is we have a number of young people whose lives are being cut short," Zilka said.
The number of drug-related deaths in Lorain County has almost tripled since last year.
"We started seeing a number of deaths in the community. The obituaries became very evident going to the wakes and funerals of these young people became very disheartening," Zilka said.
"The statistics for last year 2012, we lost 60 people to overdose in Lorain County alone. To give you a comparison, 2011 that number was 22," said chemical dependency director of Psyche & Psyche Marva Jones. She said initially the victims are given addictive prescription drugs for medical issues. "Because of the cost of keeping up with using the prescription med, they end up using heroine."
Jones and Zilka, however, hope to get in front of the problem by educating the community about the signs of addiction during a meeting Tuesday night.
"Lorain County is about 300,000 people, but if we had 60 people die of influenza, or if we had 60 people die of auto accidents in Lorain County, we would be marching on city hall and outraged," Zilka said.
Unfortunately, the signs of heroin's power are already visible in the amount of crime.
"In most of the breaking and entering cases we have had in this community, a vast majority of those are related to drug abuse and people trying to pick up quick money," Zilka said.
Jones said the state of Ohio passed a bill last year to get rid of pill mills in the area for irresponsible doctors. She said doctors should be monitoring patients closely to make sure they're not abusing prescribed drugs.
Meanwhile, Zilka said health care professionals will be on hand at Tuesday's meeting to help families already in crisis.