WATCH: 27 Investigates – Heroin and Opioid Crisis

First news anchors Stan Boney, Dave Sess and Mandy Noell hosted the event

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Thursday night, WKBN 27 First News aired a special panel discussion on the heroin and opioid crisis. The experts talked about the problems — and possible solutions.

One of the panelists, Thomas Santiago, helped us understand the mentality of a drug addict. He learned drugs on the streets of the Bronx, but it was a day in court before Mahoning County Judge Maureen Sweeney where he got a break.

“The judge looked at me and said, ‘I’m going to give you a chance,'” Santiago said.

He went through the program at Lisbon’s Family Recovery Center, where Cheryle Herr is the clinical director.

“The problem is we don’t have enough places long-term,” she said.

Mike Tobin, with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, explained how the hierarchy of drug dealing has changed.

“We got people who are ordering drugs, directly from China, over the internet — or the darknet,” he said.

State Sen. Sean O’Brien reminded us that laws have been passed that have helped.

“The governor enacted an executive order reducing the amount of pills someone’s allowed to get,” O’Brien said.

Anchor Mandy Noell streamed part of our heroin coverage on Facebook Live, and counselors were brought in to take phone calls from people with questions about the heroin crisis.

“I was very surprised by the number of people who just called in to say, ‘Thank you for having something like this,'” said Mary Harvey, with Family Recovery Center.

There was talk about naloxone. Kerr agrees with how it’s being used.

“Quoting one of our recovery coaches, Tawnya, she said, ‘I can’t help anyone if they’re dead,'” Kerr said.

She added that families need to be involved in order for addicts to recover, and there is another aspect that’s sometimes overlooked.

“We’ve got to look at mental health also. That is a major problem that people don’t recognize as part of this crisis,” she said.

Related coverage: After prison, failed rehab attempts, Boardman man finds sobriety

Increasing overdoses putting strain on local emergency rooms

Salem man says heroin crisis isn’t new, but it is a big problem

Columbiana Co. filmmaker hopes documentary sheds light on heroin crisis


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