|Trumbull County Ohio Courthouse|
Heroin and other narcotic addiction are on the rise in our country. Here in Trumbull County, Ohio, where I live, the felony drug cases out of all cases bound over for consideration by a Trumbull County Common Pleas Court grand jury has been steadily climbing from 32.7% in 2012, to 37% in 2013, 39.6% in 2014 to so far this year to 52%. In 2012, there were 36 accidental drug overdose deaths in Trumbull County, 39 in 2013, and 54 in 2014 and so far in this year only a little over half way through there have been 35 confirmed drug deaths with 16 pending. So far this year, 34 out of 35 overdose deaths have had heroin present. As high as it is in our county and the counties surrounding us, I’m sure it’s as high or even higher in other areas, although Trumbull County ranks sixth in the state for unintentional overdose deaths.
Some CDC facts: (1) From 2000 to 2013, the national rate for drug-poisoning deaths involving heroin nearly quadrupled from 0.7 deaths per 100,000 in 2000 to 2.7 deaths per100,000. Most of those after 2010. (2) Drug overdose is the number one cause of injury-related death in the U.S. with 43,082 deaths in 2013. (3) The strongest risk factor for heroin use disorder is a prescription opioid use disorder. (4) Significant increases in heroin use have been tracked to people with private insurance and higher income.
Fifteen years ago, our county’s Common Pleas Drug Court, started a treatment -program-in -lieu-of-incarceration. It’s a legal process where individuals who have been arrested for a fourth or fifth degree drug-related felony may choose Drug Court treatment instead of various other legal consequences. Pleading guilty in the Drug Court and waiving certain rights is required.
Those individuals who are eligible must not have violent backgrounds or charges, including sex-related offenses and weapon charges, past or present. They also can’t be charged with a drug trafficking offense. They must be willing to admit they have a drug problem as well as willing to do something about that problem.
If they meet the eligibility, they are placed in treatment at the level of care they need, and where they have the opportunity for full recovery from the disease of chemical dependency. Also, if they successfully complete the program, the felony charges are dismissed.
To complete the program they must (a) agree not to use any mood alteration chemicals during their participation in treatment and the Drug Court. (b) Be willing to submit to weekly random drug screens. (c) Agree to attend all counseling sessions and complete assignments. (d) Agree to appear in court weekly to have your performance made known to the Court. (e) Agree to attend AA/NA/CA as scheduled. (f) Follow all the rules of the treatment center that they are involved in. (g) avoid criminal activity, and finally (h) agree not to associate with drug using people. Six people this month graduated from this program. Right now there are 100 people active in the program with 15 to 18 on the waiting list.
|David 4th from left and his wife Paula next to him|
I first became aware of this when I found out David Kapp, the son of my cousin, and his partner had opened up a facility called First Step Recovery in Warren, Ohio this year on May 5th. Less than a week later at my family reunion at my house, I had a chance to talk to David and his wife, who helps out in the facility, about their program. He and his partner are currently constructing another building because they have a list of close to 100 people waiting to get in for treatment, not only of drug, but also alcohol addiction. Not all on this waiting list have been ordered here by the drug court. Some come voluntarily because they realize they have a problem and want help for detoxification. The minimum number of days in treatment is 5 to 7, and the minimum cost for this is $2,700. David said Medicaid will only pay for 16 beds. A lot of people who come are poor so it’s another reason why the waiting list is so long. They have to wait for an available bed.
Talk about serendipity – the day after the reunion and my visit with David, there was a big write up in our Sunday paper about the Drug Court and First Step Recovery. He never once mentioned he and his business would be in the newspaper.
|A doctor and other health professionals who work there|
The newspaper featured a story about Danielle Burk, 29, the third person to enter treatment at First Step Recovery. She said she started abusing substances at fourteen. Alcohol was her first substance. She didn’t like it at first, and then found it was the only way to find happiness. In high school she was involved in volley ball, cheerleading and went to church. When her family discovered her problem, they tried to help by putting her in programs, and she faked being better as she hid her addiction. She dropped out of school and the alcohol addiction got worse. She started dating a heroin addict and felt at least she wasn’t that kind of addict. Then he died of an overdose. She was depressed and felt guilty. She started dating another heroin addict and started using that. As an alcoholic she’d worked three jobs, but heroin took that away. She’d tried rehab twice before she went to First Step Recovery. This time it worked. She said, “If you really want recovery, you will find it.”
Last fall, I blogged about a body I found in my woods. He was a suicide unsuccessfully trying to break a heroin addiction. The coroner told the son of the man I found that after an addict is free from heroin a month is when they crash. Heroin or opiate addiction was something I’d read about, knew existed, but had little personal connections with it. One other person I did know was a young neighbor girl; a great kid who played on the softball team of our local high school that won the state championship several years. She suffered a drug overdose because the pain medication for a back she’d injured at work wasn’t renewed. A friend started her on heroin, and she OD’d. That was some years ago. In fact, I’ve read and heard a lot of addicts only start because of a discontinuance of their pain meds. I personally know no one with the addiction, at least not that I’m aware of. However, from what I’ve read and heard addicts are pretty good at hiding their problem until it gets so bad they no longer can.
Have you had someone close to you become addicted to heroin or other substance abuse?