By RYAN DUNN
Heroin has contributed to at least eight overdose deaths in Findlay in recent years, Findlay City Health Department records show.
The city recorded seven fatal overdoses in both 2009 and 2010, 11 in 2011, six in 2012 and five in 2013, according to statistics provided by Deputy Health Commissioner Barb Wilhelm.
Many of the overdoses were blamed on a combination of drugs. Heroin was specifically cited as contributing to eight of the deaths, but many cases did not detail what drug was in the user’s system.
These statistics are for people who were pronounced dead in the city, including at Blanchard Valley Hospital. The numbers may include overdose deaths associated with suicide, Wilhelm said.
Monica Lozier, registrar for the Hancock County Health Department, said she has not seen heroin overdose as a cause of death for a county resident since she joined the department in 1990.
Blanchard Valley Hospital emergency room staff handled 118 drug overdose visits in 2013, according to the Hancock County Board of Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services.
Ohio reported 426 heroin-related overdose deaths in 2011, the most recent year available. That figure is up from 338 in 2010, according to the Associated Press.
Heroin can be easily obtained, and about 12 percent of the state’s drug users called it their drug of choice, according to the AP.
Addiction is additionally worrisome because relapse is common. As tolerance falls, users can face dangerous results when returning to the drug, experts say.
State officials have worked to address the heroin problem.
Attorney General Mike DeWine formed a heroin unit of investigators, lawyers and drug abuse awareness specialists to respond to what he called an “epidemic.” He said heroin contributes to as many as 11 fatal overdoses a week.
Gov. John Kasich recently signed a bill allowing family or friends to administer naloxone, an antidote to opiate overdose.
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