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Health & Science

DeWine Urges Communities to Help Fight Ohio's Heroin Epidemic

A photo of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine

The state’s top law enforcement official is urging communities to take advantage of all the programs available to help them fight the heroin epidemic in all parts of Ohio.

Attorney General Mike DeWine says the heroin unit in his office can help communities with equipment, staff and information to get bigger drug dealers off the street. But he says, so far, only a few have taken advantage of that service.

DeWine says it’s also important for all communities to make sure they have plenty of naloxone on hand. That’s the drug that revives someone when they are overdosing. And he says it’s important to remember that some opioids, like the powerful elephant tranquilizer carfentanil, are far stronger than the overdose remedy.

“The half-life of carfentanil, might be up to seven hours. The half life of naloxone is about 30 to 40 minutes. So what we are now seeing happen is that people are brought back to life, taken to a hospital, are advised to stick around. They feel OK, so they walk out the door and two hours later, they are dead because it (naloxone) didn’t stay in their system long enough.”

DeWine says he’s heard some question why public money is being spent to buy naloxone for first responders in the first place. He defends it.

“I met with some young women a few months ago. One had been brought back to life twice. Another had been brought back to life three times. And they were sober and had been sober for three months. So we value life.”

DeWine says his office has worked with the manufacturer of naloxone to give rebates to consumers . But he says the only real way to solve the heroin crisis long-term is to educate kids, from a very young age, about the dangers of drug abuse. He’s hoping education efforts undertaken now will pay off with fewer drug abusers a decade from now.