WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – For months, WKBN has been telling you about how bad the heroin problem is in the Valley is.
“It’s terrible, you know. It’s terrible, I mean, everybody’s dying and it shouldn’t happen,” recovering addict Erica Clay said.
Clay has been clean for eight years. Now the growing heroin problem in her hometown is inspiring her to use the struggles she once faced to try and help others in a once-familiar circumstance.
“If you say you’re an addict or recovering addict, a lot of times people are like, ‘Ew,’ you know,” Clay said. “Thinking that, OK, well if you’re going to lose your kids or die, why won’t you just quit doing it? Well, it’s not that easy.”
Experts say drug usage is increasing because our society has a serious addiction problem.
“Addiction is a disease. It’s not just oh you’re just a junkie and forget about you that’s not it at all. It’s a mental disorder,” said Samantha Hird, daughter of an overdose victim.
Hird’s mother Dana Rossi just recently died from an overdose.
“When it hits really close to home like this, it just kinda makes you want to help more and more and more and do everything you can to help, because I wouldn’t wish this feeling on anybody,” Hird said.
That’s why these two friends are organizing the Niles Walk Against Heroin, set for Saturday, Nov. 14.
It’s their way of bringing the community together to show support, all while letting drug users know there’s help, before more addicts become another fatal statistic.
And those numbers are startling.
“The overdose rate has increased incredibly here in Trumbull county,” Project Dawn Coordinator Kathy Parrilla said. “In 2014, we had a 36% increase from 2013. 2015’s not looking any better.”
Trumbull County Coroner Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk says so far this year, there have been more than 50 confirmed drug overdoses, and more than a dozen cases are still pending.
The problem is so bad that free classes are being offered at the Trumbull County Combined Health district on how to safely use the overdose reversal drug Naloxone as part of Project Dawn.
There, folks are taught how to properly administer the medicine, and walk out with a free kit, something that would cost anywhere from $80 to $100 retail, just for the medicine.
The health department is able to provide this service thanks to a $6500 grant from the Trumbull Memorial Health Foundation.
“With everyone working together, we’re really hoping that we can find that solution and find it soon and quickly,” Parrilla said.
“There’s no quick fix to this, but I think there is hope down the road if we partner together and we understand it’s a challenge,” Trumbull Ashtabula Group Captain Jeff Orr said.
With about two months left in the year, experts said there’s another misconception out there that more people overdose because of the holidays, when it’s actually because more and more people are using drugs.
The Kasich Administration is making fighting substance abuse a key priority.
In the most recent state biennial budget for fiscal year 2016 to 2017, $1 million dollars has been set aside for the purchase of Naloxone.
That money will be distributed to all 88 counties based on population for Naloxone kits.
The state is also holding back $50,000 for the emergency purchases of the overdose reversal drug.
For details on how much money is being given to each county in Ohio, check out the graphic below