XENIA — Heroin usage is running rampant in Greene County.
“Here, right now it’s the drug of choice,” said Sheriff Gene Fischer. “It’s very inexpensive. It’s a poor man’s drug. It’s up everywhere in the state.”
Users are turning to the drug, also known as “H, smack, black and tar” because of the transcendent relaxation and intense euphoria it induces. Noted anthropologist Michael Agar once called it the “perfect whatever drug.”
And it also appears to be a “whoever drug” as people of all ages and financial backgrounds can get their hands on it.
“It’s coming over the border so flowingly,” said Bruce May, commander of the Greene County Agencies for Combined Enforcement (ACE Task Force). “It has traveled over a lot of customer bases from the young to the old.”
Heroin can be injected, which is the fastest route of administration, as well as smoked, inserted as a suppository, snorted and swallowed. While taking it by any method is dangerous enough, there is an increased supply of heroin being “cut” or diluted with a poplar analgesic.
“This heroin that we have in our area is laced with fentanyl as a dividing agent,” May said. “It catapults the magnitude of decrease in your blood flow. It’s causing overdoses.”
Surprisingly the county only had three heroin overdose deaths last year, according to Greene County Coroner Chief Investigator Jim Huston. That number may be a bit misleading, however.
Only deaths that actually occur in Greene County count toward to the county’s total. If a victim dies en route to a hospital in another county, or dies in a hospital in another county, Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, for example, the death belongs to that county.
Also, unless it can be determined the death was a direct result of a heroin overdoes, it does not count as an OD.
In addition to the primary issue of death, the use of heroin causes secondary issues in the community.
“It has come to us with a few other problems,” May said. “Heroin is a physical dependence.” Because of that, users will do whatever it takes to obtain the drug.
“Thefts are up due to the heroin addition,” added May. Also, users who share needles have an increased risk of contracting hepatitis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Usage can also have long-term effects on the central nervous and respiratory systems as well as heart lining infections, collapsed veins and decreased liver function.
The three overdose last year cost the county $3,600. Any drug death results in an autopsy, Huston said. Since the county doesn’t have the resources to conduct its own autopsies, they pay Montgomery County $1,200 for each one.
So what is being done?
Fischer said the schools are aggressively pushing drug abuse awareness. Beavercreek, Fairborn and Xenia have Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) programs and every year in August, the D.A.R.E. Officers from the aforementioned schools and the Sheriff’s Office conduct a four-day D.A.R.E. Camp. The camp is held at Camp Birch in Yellow Springs and is a fun-filled week of activities including horseback riding, archery, canoeing, arts and crafts, and swimming.
The ACE Task Force, which consists of the sheriff’s office, the Beavercreek, Fairborn, Yellow Springs and Xenia police departments and the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office, is also more active.
“We are paying more attention to the people that have the addiction,” May said. The goal is to get the users with the physical addiction and to figure out who is lacing heroin with fentanyl.
“It’s being addressed on all fronts,” May said. “It’s sad that people enjoy using drugs.”