WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – The heroin epidemic is hitting everyone, not only in Warren, but throughout the U.S. That is the message that local leaders wanted to get across to the community, as part of a public meeting held in the Warren Municipal Justice Building on Friday night.
Trumbull County Coroner Humphrey Germaniuk told people that heroin use in the Valley is bad and it’s getting worse. Some of the statistics he presented made the crowd gasp, but they are the hard facts of the heroin epidemic.
In the year 2014, there were 54 overdoses in Trumbull County. In 2015, that number spiked to more than 81 overdoses.
Warren had the most overdoses last year, with 32, followed by Howland and Niles, with 12 each. The most common age range of recorded overdoses were those 31 to 45, according to the presentation.
Germaniuk used to be the chief medical examiner in Washington, D.C.
“I was there for the crack cocaine epidemic. Ain’t seen nothing like what we’re seeing now,” he said.
Heroin today is cheaper and easier to obtain, which Germaniuk attributed to last year’s spike in overdoses.
Warren Police Lt. Greg Hoso said the police department used Narcan, an opioid reversal drug, 21 times last year. This year, the department has used it 11 times already.
The City of Warren is trying to combat that drug use. Council members, along with local law enforcement, hope that Friday’s meeting was a wake-up call to residents.
“This is an epidemic that somehow, someway, probably touches every person, not only in the city of Warren, not only in county or in the state, but across the country,” Warren Councilman Eddie Colbert said. “We really want to get to the young people, we want to get to the students, we want to let them know that there’s a better life out there for you.”
Council said it wanted to hear from the experts about the issue, as well as the public.
Trumbull County Sheriff Tom Altiere said 80 percent of convicts in Trumbull County Jail are there for drug-related crimes
“We cannot arrest our way out of it. We’ve tried. It’s a vicious cycle,” he said.
Christopher Boze, of Girard, said he has seen the devastating effects of the drug.
“I’m really getting tired of all my friends dying,” he said.
One Warren council member said he had never seen so many people in the Council room before. The mayor promised action.
“If we’re number one in addiction, we can be number one in recovery,” said Warren Mayor Doug Franklin.
The city believes educating people is the first step in its plan to stop the epidemic, but Council said this is on the first step of the game plan. Council hopes to continue holding meetings like Friday’s to develop a solution to end the epidemic.