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Courts and Crime

Cuyahoga County considers ways to stop heroin
Law enforcement, education and medical communities teaming up to address growing problem

Kevin Niedermier
In The Region:

In Cuyahoga County this year, heroin-related deaths are on track to surpass the number of homicides.

Next month, the local law enforcement and medical communities will hold a day-long conference on dealing with the drug’s impact. The Cleveland Clinic and the U-S Attorney’s office are sponsoring the Nov. 21 event.

U.S. Attorney Steven Dettlebach says the conference will touch on law enforcement efforts, educating people about heroin and other topics.

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“We’re going to have ... the debate about what some of the best treatments are. And we’re going to have people from the Clinic and Metro and U-H (University Hospitals), who will talk about what they’re doing to try to prevent the problem at the front end -- whether that’s changing the way we prescribe pain medications, because a lot of people are moving from pain medication to heroin, or whether it’s about educating the medical community about how to recognize and treat heroin addiction or overdose.”

The conference is free and open to the public as well as to educators, police and medical professionals. Dettlebach says creating public awareness about the dangers of heroin is a key to slowing the epidemic.

In the past month, more than 130 people have been charged with heroin trafficking offenses in Cuyahoga County. But, Dettlebach says you cannot “arrest” your way out of the problem.
Last year, the county had more than 160 heroin deaths compared to just 40 in 2007. 

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