Actor death shines light on heroin abuse

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Local addiction specialists hope the death of a popular Hollywood star will shine some light on the opiate epidemic facing Ohio and the Valley.

An autopsy report shows Cory Monteith, best known for his role on “Glee”, overdosed on heroin and alcohol earlier this week.

Each year more than 25 people die in the Mahoning Valley from drug overdose. People often start with prescription opiates and then go to heroin, which is cheaper and very accessible.

Doug Wentz with the Neil Kennedy Recovery Clinic says younger people are abusing the drug. A recent report revealed 3.5 percent of high school juniors in Mahoning County used the drug within 30 days of taking a voluntary survey.

“He looks like our patients, he really does. Federal confidentiality prohibits us from doing that, but if you could eyeball our patients, they look just like that young man who passed very young, very bright and many times they’ve lost a lot to addiction,” said Wentz.

Wentz said his patients tend be younger, suburban and college educated. He said there is little difference in gender and the shift has moved from crack cocaine to opiates and prescription medications.

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