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Crime and Courts


Painkiller deaths down while heroin death climb in Ohio
Some are moving to a more lethal addiction
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE BUREAU CHIEF KAREN KASLER


Reporter
Karen Kasler
 
Heroin seizures have surged, and so have overdose deaths.
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The Ohio Department of Health says the number of people who died of prescription painkiller overdoses has dropped for the first time in nine years. But 680 people died of heroin overdoses in 2012, and that number is up 60 percent from the previous year.

Orman Hall is the director of the Governor’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team. He says this jump is a matter of not being able to reach addicts who are moving from prescription painkillers to heroin.

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“What we’re seeing is those people who are currently addicted who we haven’t been able to intervene with, moving from prescription opiates to heroin. It’s the same addiction, but heroin is a much much more lethal form. … And because of that move from prescription drugs to heroin, we are seeing more people die.”

The increase in heroin deaths drove up the overall fatal drug-abuse overdose number to a new record of 1,272 -- an increase of just over 10 percent from the previous year. The state recently launched an anti-drug abuse effort aimed at middle- and high-school kids.

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